This handy guide on grants, subsidies and financial assistance schemes for seniors and caregivers may help you defray the high costs associated with caregiving and decide on the subsidy or scheme that best suits your needs.

As our population ages and the life expectancy of Singaporeans increase, the number of people entering senior communities will grow. In fact, the Department of Statistics Singapore has reported that the proportion of residents aged 65 years and over has increased from 8.7% in 2008 to 13.7% in 2018. 

A study by ageing expert Dr. Angelique Chan found that the average 60-year-old man here will live 22 more years and spend three years of that time disabled in some way. The average woman of the same age, on the other hand, will live 26 more years, eight in disability. This means that there will be an increasing need to support Singaporeans in the later chapters of their lives, and a rise in informal caregiving.

As the Republic faces a silver tsunami, increased importance has been placed on eldercare in Singapore. In a bid to make healthcare more accessible and affordable, various financial schemes, grants and subsidies for the elderly have been implemented by the government to cushion the impact of caregiving and enhance the wellbeing of seniors. 

However, many eligible seniors and caregivers may be unaware of their existence and thus are not effectively utilising them. Nearly 50% of potential caregivers mentioned that they need financial assistance or proper training to care for an elderly family member, but are unaware of the schemes available. 

With this handy guide on eldercare grants and subsidies in Singapore, we hope that you will be able to effectively make use of the support available to help you defray the high costs associated with caregiving and decide on the scheme that best suits your needs.

Home Caregiving Grant (HCG)

Caregivers have shared that the cost of caregiving is amongst the uppermost issues in their minds. From October 2019, the Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) will replace the Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Grant as part of the new Caregiver Support Action Plan to lighten the financial load of caregiving.

This grant gives a $200 monthly cash payout that can be used to defray the costs of senior care and caregiver support services in the community apart from the hiring of a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW), allowing families more flexibility when tapping on this subsidy.

To be eligible for the Home Caregiving Grant:

  • Care recipient must be a Singaporean Citizen (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR) with a parent, child or spouse who is a Singapore Citizen
  • Care recipient must be living in Singapore
  • Household monthly income per person is $2,800 or less; or the annual value of property for the household without income is $13,000 or less
  • Care recipient must not be in a residential long-term care institution
  • Care recipient would always require assistance with at least 3 of these 6 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) *

*ADL: Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, walking/moving around 

Learn more about the Home Caregiving Grant here.

Caregivers Training Grant (CTG)

Available support is beyond mere financial means. As caregivers, we often stress about how to ensure that our loved ones receive the care that is best for them. Better equip yourself with Caregiving skills that will aid in providing holistic care to your loved ones with the Caregivers Training Grant. With a plethora of courses available, you are sure to be on your way to creating a safe and supportive environment for those under your care. These courses include managing day-to-day care, caring for loved ones with dementia, clinical skills such as tube-feeding and stoma care, as well as communication and self-care skills.

To be eligible for the Caregivers Training Grant:

  • Care recipient must be a Singaporean Citizen (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR)
  • Care recipient must be aged at least 65 years old, OR be certified to have a disability by a doctor
  • Caregiver must be the main caregiver (immediate family member/FDW) looking after the care recipient
  • Caregiver must complete any of the CTG-approved training courses and receive a certificate of attendance if there is one

Understand how Caregivers Training Grant works here.

Foreign Domestic Levy Concession

Should you require the additional help of a Foreign Domestic Worker, the Foreign Domestic Levy Concession is part of the package to support Singaporeans needing care.

To be eligible, these criteria have to be met:

  • Care recipient must be a Singapore Citizen
  • Care recipient must be at least 67 years old
  • FDW employer must be a Singapore Citizen;
  • Care recipient must be living together with the FDW employer at the same NRIC-registered address
  • Care recipient must require permanent assistance in at least 1 of the ADLs*

*ADL: Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, walking/moving around 

Apply here to leverage on this levy today.

Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)

With the rising cost of healthcare services, the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will lighten the burden with subsidies. Present your CHAS card at participating medical and dental clinics to enjoy the benefits. 

CHAS is available to those who are:

  • Singapore Citizens from lower-to-middle income households, as well as all Pioneers
  • Pioneers are living Singapore Citizens who meet two criteria:
  1. Aged 16 and above in 1965 (i.e. born on or before 31 December 1949​; aged 65 and above in 2014)
  2. Obtained citizenship on or before 31 December 1986

Understand how the scheme works and the CHAS application process here to better manage your finances.

Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE)

According to the National Registry of Diseases Office (NRDO) of Singapore, the crude incidence rate of unintentional falls in year 2012 was 277.7 per 100,000 for adults aged 60 years and older. The incidence rate increases sharply with age. Many of these falls happen at home.

Falls are not only associated with greater morbidity and mortality in the older population, but are also linked to reduced overall functioning and early admission to long-term facilities. Moreover, with the proportion of older adults living alone increasing, steps must be taken so that seniors can go about their activities of daily living with more ease.

Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) provides subsidies for home modifications to create a safer and a more comfortable environment for the elderly. With the Government paying up to 95% of the cost, EASE is here to help you out with the cost of installing special tools around the house to prevent falls from happening.

EASE has proved to be very helpful for individuals like Mr Krishnamuthi and Mr Lam. Quoting Mr Lam, “It’s hard to say when these safety features will come in useful, so I thought I should get them just in case, especially since they’re subsidised by the Government.”

In order to be eligible for EASE, you have to fulfil one of the following criteria:

  • Caregiver must be a Singaporean flat owner with a member of your family living with you who is 65 years and older, OR
  • Caregiver is a Singaporean flat owner with at least one household member between the ages of 60 and 64 who needs help with at least three of the six activities of daily living (ADLs)*.

*ADLs: eating, dressing, transferring, toileting, walking/moving around

Plan ahead and find out about your financing options here.

Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF)

If you or your loved ones are 60 years old and above and require the help of assistive devices to remain independent and mobile, Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) will do just the job.

The SMF has been expanded to subsidize a wider range of devices and to include home healthcare items such as milk feeds and wound dressing for people who are currently cared for at home and nursing homes.

Mdm Ho, who has been left paralysed after two strokes and a hip injury, has benefited greatly from this scheme. With the expanded SMF, Mdm Ho was able to tap on the subsidies to buy a range of equipment to help her become more mobile and independent.

In order to be eligible for Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund, there are certain criteria to be met:

  • Singaporean citizens aged 60 and above
  • Pass required mean test by MOH
  • Household monthly income per person <$1,800 OR Annual Value (AV) of residence reflected on NRIC of <$13,000 for households with no income
  • Must be assessed by a qualified assessor on the type of devices or healthcare items required

Additional criteria may have to be fulfilled depending on the devices and items you are applying for. Learn more about how the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) can be of aid to you here.

Interim Disability Assistance Scheme (IDAPE)

For seniors who were not eligible for ElderShield at the time it was implemented, schemes like Interim Disability Assistance Scheme for the Elderly (IDAPE) provide monetary grants that can be used to cover expenses, with no restriction on the coverage, as long as it is used for the care of the disabled IDAPE claimant.

IDAPE can be used to make payments for:

  • ​Medical bills
  • ​Nursing costs
  • Hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW) as a helper to care for the disabled IDAPE claimant

To be eligible:

  • Household monthly income per person <$2600
  • IDAPE claimant must be unable to perform three or more of the six Activities of Daily Living, and certified by an approved assessor
  • Born on or before 30 September 1932, OR between 1 October 1932 and 30 September 1962 (both dates inclusive), with pre-existing disabilities as of 30 September 2002
  • You must be a Singapore Citizen living in Singapore

Click here for more information on IDAPE.

ElderShield

It is predicted that 50% of Singaporeans who are healthy at 65 years old will eventually develop a long-term disability. ElderShield is an insurance scheme that aims to provide basic financial protection to all Singaporeans who need long-term care and supplement Singaporeans’ savings should they experience severe disability. 

ElderShield policyholders who are severely disabled can receive cash payouts of $300 or $400 per month, for up to 72 months. 

To be eligible:

All Singaporeans will automatically be enrolled in ElderShield at the age of 40 if you have a MediSave account and be covered by one of the private insurers appointed by the Ministry of Health to run ElderShield, which includes Aviva, Great Eastern or Income.

However, those who are classified as severely disabled (i.e. unable to perform at least 3 activities of daily living, which includes washing, feeding, dressing, toileting, mobility and transferring) prior to enrolment will not be eligible for any claims and should apply to cancel the plan when you receive the welcome letter at age 40. This group of individuals will be covered by IDAPE instead.

Click here for more information on ElderShield.

CareShield Life

Launched on 1 October 2020, CareShield Life is a long-term care insurance scheme that provides basic financial support for individuals who are severely disabled. Eligible individuals will receive a cash payout of at least $600 per month for as long as they remain severely disabled and meet the eligibility criteria. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Is a CareShield Life policyholder
    • Those born in 1980 or later, will be automatically covered under CareShield Life from 1 October 2020, or when they turn 30, whichever is later
    • Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, born in 1979 or earlier can choose to join CareShield Life from end-2021, if they are not severely disabled
  • Unable to perform three or more of the six Activities of Daily Living, and certified by an approved assessor

Learn more about CareShield Life here.

ElderShield and CareShield Life Supplement

Existing ElderShield and CareShield Life policyholders who would like to have a higher coverage may purchase supplements from any of the ElderShield insurers. Premiums will vary depending on the type of benefits offered and can be paid using your or your family member’s MediSave, up to $600 per calendar year per person insured.

Learn more about ElderShield and CareShield Life Supplement here.

ElderFund

ElderFund is a relatively new discretionary assistance scheme which launched into effect on 30 Jan 2020 and aims to support needy citizens with severe disabilities by providing cash assistance of $250 or $150 per month for as long as they remain eligible.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must be a Singapore Citizen living in Singapore
  • Aged 30 and above
  • Monthly household income per person of S$1,200 or less*
  • MediSave balance of less than S$10,000
  • Unable to perform three or more of the six Activities of Daily Living, and certified by an approved assessor
  • Not eligible or benefitting from CareShield Life, ElderShield or IDAPE

Learn more about ElderFund here.

MediSave Care

With effect from October 2020, cash of up to $200 per month can be withdrawn from the MediSave accounts of those who are severely disabled  and/or their spouses for long-term care needs. 

The amount you can withdraw from your MediSave account depends on your MediSave Balance at the point of withdrawal. A minimum of $5,000 will be set aside in the individual’s MediSave account for other medical expenses such as MediShield Life premiums or hospitalisations. However, those with insufficient balance for withdrawal can tap on their spouse’s MediSave. 

Benefits

  • Monthly cash withdrawals of up to $200

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Aged 30 and above
  • Have a MediSave Account Balance of at least $5,000
  • Unable to perform three or more of the six Activities of Daily Living, and certified by an approved assessor

Learn more about MediSave Care here.

Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme (PioneerDAS)

Introduced in 2014 as part of the Pioneer Generation Package, Pioneers with moderate to severe functional disability will be provided with $100 per month to support their long-term care expenses. 

To be eligible:

  • Born before 1950 and became a Singapore citizen before 1987
  • Unable to perform three or more of the six Activities of Daily Living, and certified by an approved assessor

Click here for more information on PioneerDAS.

Assistive Technology Fund (ATF)

The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) was set up to support independent living among persons with disabilities (PWDs), regardless of age, by providing subsidies for the purchase of assistive technology devices. Depending on your gross household income, you can get a subsidy of up to 90% of the cost of assistive technology devices, subject to a lifetime cap of $40,000.

ATF can be used to acquire, replace, upgrade or repair devices such as wheelchairs and hearing aids. The devices should be used for the following purposes: early intervention, education, training, employment, therapy, rehabilitation and/or independence in daily living. Medical devices and consumables are not covered under ATF.

To be eligible:

  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Certified to have a permanent disability of any one of the following:
    • Physical disability
    • Visual impairment
    • Hearing impairment
    • Intellectual disability
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Undergone qualified assessor’s assessment to determine the need and type of device(s)
  • Household gross monthly income per person of $2,000 and below

Click here for more information on ATF.

ComCare Short-To-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA)

For those who are temporarily unable to work due to an injury or illness, are looking for a job, or require income supplement, short-term financial support is available with ComCare Short-To-Medium-Term Assistance. 

Benefits

  • Monthly cash assistance for living expenses
  • Assistance with your household bills, including rental, utilities, and/or service and conservancy charges
  • Assistance with medical bills at polyclinics and government or restructured hospitals​
  • Employment assistance such as job search and/or training, by a Career Coach from Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC e2i
  • Referrals to other government agencies and community partners, such as Family Service Centres (FSCs) for casework and counselling

Eligibility Criteria:

  • A Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident (at least one of the immediate family members must be a Singapore Citizen)
  • Inadequate family and community support
  • Household income of $1,900 per month or less, or per capita income of $650 or less

If you face financial difficulties despite having an income that exceeds these guidelines, you may still approach a Social Service Office (SSO), where they will assess your circumstances and needs, and assist you accordingly.​

Learn more about ComCare Short-To-Medium-Term Assistance here.

ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA), a.k.a. Public Assistance

ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA), also known as Public Assistance, is for those who are unable to work due to old age, illness or disability and have insufficient family support, savings or assets to rely on for daily needs. 

Benefits

  • Monthly cash assistance for living expenses (amount of cash grant depends on the size of your household)
  • Additional assistance of up to $150 per child per month to support the out-of-pocket expenses of school-going children
  • Education assistance for school-going children of LTA recipients, including school fees, miscellaneous fees and school books
  • Assistance with your household bills, including rental, utilities, and/or service and conservancy charges
  • Discretionary tier assistance for one-off purchases of essentials such as healthcare or household appliances
  • Assistance with medical bills at polyclinics and government or restructured hospitals​
  • Free or highly subsidised access to a range of social support services including home help services and Senior Activity Centres funded by the government and delivered by social service agencies. LTA beneficiaries also receive supplementary assistance in cash or in kind from other community-based agencies (e.g. food rations and vouchers)

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Unable to work due to old age, illness or disability
  • Elderly persons who receive only small monthly payouts (lower than the prevailing LTA rates) from other sources, such as CPF Retirement Sum/CPF Life, Pension, ElderShield and Lease Buyback Scheme
  • Elderly persons whose children are low-income themselves (i.e. with a household income of $1,900 per month or less, or per capita income of $650 or less) and unable to support their parents.

Learn more about ComCare Long-Term Assistance here.

Medical Fee Exemption Card

As we get older, our visits to clinics and hospitals tend to become more frequent as well. While the government provides healthcare subsidies for Singaporeans, the cost of healthcare can still tends to add up to a significant amount. The Medical Fee Exemption Card is issued to needy residents of MOH-funded nursing homes or MSF-funded sheltered and disability homes, and covers the cost of standard medical and hospitalisation treatments at public healthcare institutions (including polyclinics) and intermediate and long-term care (ILTC) institutions.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Singapore Citizens or Permanent Resident, and are residents of MOH-funded nursing homes or MSF-funded sheltered and disability homes
  • Monthly per capita family income of $700 or less
  • Personal savings of $6,000 or less

Find out more about Medical Fee Exemption Cards here.

Long-term caregiving impacts the caregivers, care recipients, as well as family, friends and the larger community. We hope that this article, coupled with our financial guide for caregivers will shed light on the help available to you, to better support you in your journey.

Should you or someone you know need support caring for a senior loved one, we are here to help. Reach out to our Care Advisors at 6100 0055 today.
References
  1. Chumari, A. ​Fall Prevention: A Serious Matter for the Elderly. Retrieved 3 January 2020, from https://www.healthxchange.sg/seniors/ageing-concerns/fall-prevention-elderly
  2. FALLS PREVENTION AMONG OLDER ADULTS LIVING IN THE COMMUNITY. (2015). [Ebook] (p. 6). Retrieved from https://www.hpb.gov.sg/docs/default-source/pdf/cpg_falls_preventionb274.pdf?sfvrsn=abedeb72_0
  3. Lai, L. (2018). Programmes that help with seniors’ needs. Retrieved 3 January 2020, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/programmes-that-help-with-seniors-needs
  4. Smith, M., Schneider, E., Ory, M., & Shubert, T. (2018). Commentary: The dangers of a fall for the elderly. Retrieved 3 January 2020, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/the-dangers-of-a-fall-for-the-elderly-10843932