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How to apply for nursing homes in Singapore: A Definitive Guide

Understanding the nursing home admission criteria (Singapore)

Sending your elderly loved ones to a nursing home may not be the easiest thing to do. First of all, they're family. Being away from someone you care about so much will definitely be difficult. However, given the challenges and complications brought about by aging, it would be best for seniors to move into an environment where they can receive the right amount of care and support.

The process of applying for nursing homes can be quite tedious at first glance. Fortunately, this blog post will serve as your guide to the admissions criteria of the nursing homes in Singapore.

Why do seniors need to move into nursing homes?

Understanding their need for proper nursing care services

Is it really necessary to move your loved one into a private nursing home? Can't they be just cared for at home? That would be easier said than done, especially if the family members of the elderly have no weekday jobs or immediate families of their own. Getting old means dealing with various changes in our physical and mental stability. Chronic illnesses appear, pains and discomforts are here and there, and not to mention the occasional forgetfulness.

Nursing homes are care facilities dedicated to providing quality accommodation for seniors while also tending to their needs 24/7. Physically or mentally disabled seniors who are unable to be cared for by their family members should move into nursing homes. Though they will be apart from their loved ones, they can receive professional nursing care that will improve their overall quality of life.

Health conditions associated with aging

As previously mentioned, aging comes with various changes in our health. No matter how much we take care of ourselves, certain health conditions can be inevitable. In line with that, here are the following health conditions that are caused or related to aging:

  • Loss of hearing
  • Cataracts
  • Back and neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pulmonary disease
  • Dementia
  • Depression

When we age, we are also prone to experience several complex health issues that only emerge later in life. These are not falling under disease categories and are referred to as geriatric syndromes. They are usually caused by factors like frailty, pressure ulcer, falls, and delirium.

With all that said, it is important for aging adults to receive the proper care, nutrition, and health assistance that they need so as not to succumb to the consequences brought about by these conditions.

Defining nursing homes and elderly care options

Nursing homes may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about senior care. However, there are many types of long-term residential care facilities dedicated to the elderly. They differ in terms of the level of care required by the elderly. Some need to be cared for 24/7, while others only require minimal care or short-term ones.

Later on, we'll be discussing how to determine the kind of care your loved one might need. In the meantime, read and understand each elderly care service below:

Nursing homes

A nursing home is a multi-residential facility that provides long-term around-the-clock care to seniors who are disabled, sick, or incapable of caring for themselves. It's like a community hospital with licensed nurses and skilled caregiving staff to look after the needs of an elderly person.

Old folks' homes

Assisted Living

For seniors who only need help with activities of daily living but do not demand the level of care offered by nursing homes, assisted living is a viable option. Here, they can live somehow independently but provided assistance with basic self-care tasks such as eating, dressing, bathing, amongst others. Residents can also engage in social and recreational activities that will provide them new learnings and hobbies to enjoy.

Independent living

Independent living is a residential care facility that caters to senior residents who can live on their own but only need assistance with more complex activities such as medication management, housekeeping, and financial management. This is a type of old folks' home where people can spend their retirement years peacefully. It is like a private community where you can also connect with people who are at the same stage of life.

Memory care

Seniors suffering from dementia or other types of memory impairment can be moved into memory care. Memory care or dementia care homes are built to help people living with dementia experience a better quality of life. Around-the-clock care, planned programs, and activities, and guaranteed safety and security are only some of the notable perks of residing in a memory care centre.

Other types of nursing services

In-home care

For elderly residents who prefer to stay in their homes, they can opt for in-home care. Here, they can hire a professional caregiver to care for them and tend to their needs in a more familiar and comfortable environment. They can still receive medical care by having a doctor visit them from time to time.

Day care

Elderly day care gives seniors a chance to be cared for by professional caregivers during the day. This is a form of short-term care where seniors can receive proper personal care and engage in activities in a centre with other aging adults. They don't have to reside in the facility but they can stay there whilst their family members go to work or go about their day.

Respite care

Sometimes, a caregiver deserves a break too. Respite care services are where the elderly can be cared for during the times their primary caregiver wants to rest or take a vacation. This highlights the importance of caregivers to nourish themselves as well so that they can perform better in tending to the needs of the patients.

What are the needs of the elderly?

The needs of the elderly may vary, depending on their health or medical conditions. These needs will also determine what level of care the senior needs. This is why most nursing homes and old folks' homes require seniors to undergo a Functional Assessment Report (FAR). This will help evaluate the status of the potential resident and which type of care services will suit them the most depending on the level of care, support, and assistance that they need.

Under the functional assessment report, seniors will be evaluated if they need help with any of the activities of daily living (ADLs):

Activities of daily living

1. Mobility

Some of the elderly find difficulty in moving around because of their chronic health conditions or the pain and discomfort that they feel. They require assistance in walking or even just simply standing up from their seat.

2. Bathing or washing

If they have difficulty moving, chances are they can't also bathe themselves. Taking a shower involves a lot of tasks like shampooing your hair, scrubbing your skin, so on and so forth. If a senior finds it difficult to move his limbs, he might not be able to reach certain parts of his body to cleanse it. Not to mention, the wet floor might cause them to fall, especially considering their reduced balance and coordination.

3. Dressing

Dressing up may seem like such a basic task, but aging adults who have poor balance, coordination, or cognitive abilities may find it challenging to accomplish it. Some seniors who have dementia may get confused and wear their clothes inside out.

4. Feeding

Eating is one of the most important things to do to get nutrition in your body. Seniors might fail to feed themselves if they are immobile, bed-ridden, or forgetful. Missing meals might cause their health to deteriorate even further.

5. Toileting

Going to the toilet happens from time to time. Seniors have less bladder control so expect that they will make frequent visits to the loo. It's important to assist them here to avoid any cases of falling or other possible accidents.

6. Transferring

This is a prominent case for those who are paralyzed or immobile. These are the seniors who literally need to be carried from one place to another. They can no longer move on their own so they need another person to help them transfer from one position to the next.

How to apply for a nursing home in Singapore?

If you are planning to move your loved one into a nursing home, there are plenty of factors to consider such as:


Location is important because the family members of the seniors must still be within a reasonable distance so that they can visit them anytime. It's also good for the senior care facility to be in an accessible location that's also near to other establishments like malls, markets, and especially hospitals. Choose a nursing home that has a good location.

Level of care required

To apply for a nursing home, the elderly must qualify for the following reasons:

  • Physically or mentally disabled
  • Struggles in walking (either wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden)
  • Unable to be cared for at home by family members
  • Eligible for means test (an assessment checking the household monthly income per head for MOH subsidies)


Applying for a nursing home requires a referral from a medical social worker of a hospital or a polyclinic. The said social worker will be assisting you in submitting the referral as well as an application to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC). The AIC is a government agency that manages the availability of nursing homes in Singapore. After a means test has been conducted, this will also determine if you are eligible for government subsidies (if it is applicable to the nursing home you are trying to apply for).

If that process is a little too tedious for you, you can opt to apply directly to your preferred private nursing home where you would only be required to pay for private nursing rates.

How to apply for old folks' home in Singapore?

If you're looking into getting your loved ones long-term care from old folks' homes, you must consider and abide by the admission criteria and requirements which is in line with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Admission requirements

The admission criteria and requirements must be met in order to apply for senior care homes. These are both for subsidized and non-subsidized cases.

Admission criteria for seniors who need MOH subsidy:

  • Must be a Singaporean or a permanent resident in Singapore
  • Has a household income per capita of $2,800 or less
  • The residential status and savings of the applicant
  • The applicant's level of care must be categorized under 3 and 4 of the Ministry's Resident Assessment Form (a high dependency level of nursing care is needed)
  • The applicant has no family members, close relatives, or caregivers to care for and support him/her
  • The applicant must not have any suicidal, or violent tendencies
  • Any sick person, especially the elderly, who is reliant on a wheelchair or bed-bound

Admission criteria for seniors who don't need government subsidy:

  • Must be a Singaporean or a permanent resident in Singapore
  • The applicant has a medical condition(s) that require proper nursing care services
  • Applicants with psychological or psychiatric illnesses must not have suicidal or violent tendencies

Old folks homes vs. nursing homes

It is important to know and understand the needs of your aging loved ones because it will help you decide which type of care is best for them. For instance, bed-ridden seniors are a better fit for nursing homes because they have access to 24/7 medical care. Actual nurses will be there to look after their needs.

On the other side, old folks' homes are meant for aging adults who are more capable of moving around on their own. They still need assistance when it comes to activities of daily living, but they still have the freedom to explore new hobbies and gain new learnings.

If you want to apply for a nursing home or a nursing home alternative, you can reach out to us here at Red Crowns.

Get in touch with us.

Learn more about Red Crowns. You may contact us for more information about our services and locations, get a quote or to schedule a tour.
+65 9800 5297
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