Monthly Archives: July 2015

Not ready to age

BY CHRISTINA CHIN

Malaysia’s racing against time to become a developed nation but with a growing population of singles, couples having fewer kids and people living longer, there’s a high chance we’ll be an aged country before then. And, we are far from ready to grow old.

MALAYSIA is fast becoming an aged nation. And it isn’t ready.

In 2006, we hit the ageing status and by 2030, we’ll be aged.

Lack of care centres for the aged, infrastructure and money are why we’re struggling.

Deputy CEO (strategy) Emoloyees Provident Fund Malaysia, Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammah Alias.

Deputy CEO (strategy) Emoloyees Provident Fund Malaysia, Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammah Alias.

Describing the situation as “dire if we do nothing”, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) deputy chief executive officer (strategy) Tunku Alizakri Alias says we’re ageing before we can reach developed nation status.

The number of youngsters are dropping as the number of seniors soar, he points out.

“Other countries are becoming aged too but they’ve already developed. Our window period for planning is much shorter.

“Making policies and implementing them takes time. And, you can’t save money overnight,” he warns, stressing that not enough retirement savings and low financial literacy are big challenges.

Sixty-eight percent of members aged 54 have savings lower than RM50,000 which can only last five years assuming they spend RM820 per month. The full EPF withdrawal age is 55 but the average life expectancy is 75.

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Source : The Star

Malaysians must face facts. We’re living longer so we must work longer, he says.

“The new poverty line income is RM930. So, how long do you think RM50,000 will last now with rising healthcare costs?” he asks, adding that the price of surgery spiked by about 14% from 2006 to 2013.

He cautioned against withdrawing the EPF early for expenses that don’t build assets.

In the old days, investing in your child’s education brings returns. Nowadays, it’s not a sure thing that they will take care of you, he says, matter of fact.

“Withdrawing money for investment is also risky because one in 10 new businesses fail.”

He believes that financial literacy is the key to facing the challenges of an aged nation.

That’s why the EPF launched our Retirement Advisory Service last year.

“We also need a holistic social security master plan. The critical illness insurance penetration is too low here. There must be better coverage for those in the informal sectors.

“We need to get moving now.”

He says the lack of retirement products for those in the active ageing (55-70), passive ageing (65-80) and frail (over 80) categories are a major challenge.

carolyip

Carol Yip : We want to be financially independent after retirement.

Being retirement-ready means having financial security, remaining healthy and leading a happy and meaningful life, he adds. Financial coach Carol Yip, who’s pursuing a doctorate in aged care, agrees.

Ready or not, we’re ageing fast and in urgent need of care centres, Yip, who’s also the Aged Care Group chief executive officer, says.

Aged Care is an organisation providing daycare centres, retirement villages, and nursing homes.

The aged care problem has always been there but has intensified now because of rising costs, changing values, urban migration and smaller families, she says.

“Don’t talk about 2020 – we aren’t even meeting today’s aged care needs!

“In a lot of hospitals, you see seniors occupying the beds because it’s cheaper to pay RM80 for 24-hour nursing care plus three hot meals daily than to take them home.

“It’s a problem.”

The lack of specialised services, care givers and geriatric doctors are challenges needing attention. Also urgent are a legal framework, standard operating procedures and enforcement to manage abuse cases and prevent centres from becoming a dumping ground for abandoned seniors, and aged-friendly infrastructure.”We’ve progressed but not fast enough,” she says.

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Source : The Star

Yip who organised Malaysia’s Retirement Transformation Conference in 2010 and Private Pension and Healthcare Conference in 2011, suggests a fourth account be set up by the EPF for aged care.

Allow members to withdraw only at age 65 or 70 because that’s usually when you need a high level of care as diseases like dementia or Parkinson set in, she offers.

Explaining why forced saving is a must, she says people still don’t know what they need in their old age and can only plan for their first 10 years of retirement.

She also called for the retirement age to be raised to “65 or higher”.

She suggests that unit trust and insurance providers be part of the solution.

“Create managed care platforms. Extend medical coverage.

“Have a clause that says: ‘If you choose not to do anything, your money will be kept for your aged care needs’.

A system that allows property-owners to sell their place and move into a home easily will facilitate the ‘age-in-your-own-township’ concept where seniors are integrated into society, she feels.

“Developers must build nursing homes in every township. If there are 1,000 homes, easily 10% of the residents will need aged care.”

Here, she says, the thousands of centres offering home care, daycare and long-term stay, are unlicensed.

She said such centres must be purpose built like hospitals and schools.

Most of these homes are converted from bungalows and aren’t suitable, she said, adding that average monthly charges range between RM1,800 and RM3,000.

Inappropriate placement like sending an independent senior to a home that caters to those who are bedridden or suffering from dementia, often results in consumers paying much more than necessary, she says.

And, it’s the middle income, she stresses, who need aged home-care services the most because “we have to go to work and can’t afford maids.”

If such centres are legalised and run efficiently, competition among operators will bring down prices, she opines.

The Government should give NGOs and the private sector more incentives to get into the aged care business, she thinks.

“It takes at least three years to build a proper home and get everything in place.

“The Government can help by working with universities and nursing schools to encourage more caregivers to enter the market so that it’s easier for us to hire qualified staff.”

She feels that having personal data including insurance coverage, assets and savings in a comprehensive online system would allow aged care providers to better assist seniors especially those suffering from dementia.

She said there’s an urgent need for the proposed Aged Healthcare Act to regulate private institutions and community care providers for those above 60.

Now, operators claim they are unlicensed because they are confused whether to follow the Care Centre Act 1993 or Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.

The aged care industry needs a regulated, integrated framework, because ageing is a social issue. The Government must support the NGOS and private sector, she says.

“And, you and me, must make sure we have saved enough money to afford aged care.”

 

Source: The Star, Sunday July 26, 2015

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/07/26/Not-ready-to-age/

DF Pharmacy helps monitor food intake, weight

SENIOR citizens don’t just need to take the right medications and dietary supplements for optimal health. They also need to get the right nutrients, especially if they are recovering from ailments.

With this in mind, Aged Care Group (ACG) and DF Pharmacy recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide easy accessibility of healthcare services to the community.

The MoU was signed by Jeff Kong Jiang Foong, DF Pharmacy managing director, and Carol Yip, ACG chief executive officer.

The collaboration aims to provide a holistic approach to elderly care in terms of dietary needs. At the signing ceremony, Kong explained that DF Pharmacy Dietetics Services will help the public, especially the elderly, monitor their food intake and weight. This service will ensure they have the necessary nutrients to recover from ailments.

“People are growing older in Malaysia, but we do not have enough aged care services for them. ACG offers a good platform for professionals to come together to provide a better lifestyle for the elderly in Malaysia,” said Kong, adding that DF Pharmacy hopes to play a more active role within the aged care sphere.

DF Pharmacy’s website can be found at http://www.dfpharmacy.com/.

Get healthy with ACG’s Silver Fitness Programme

AGED Care Group’s 12-week Silver Fitness Programme kicked off successfully with an introduction and demonstration at the Super Pharmacy Megastore recently.

Shoppers were introduced to the programme which promotes physical health and fitness among the ageing population.

The collaboration between ACG and the pharmacy saw Super Pharmacy giving away tins of oat milk to shoppers who registered for the programme during the promotion.

The introduction at Super Pharmacy allowed elderly shoppers to experience a variety of exercises. They even had a chance to learn how to use a resistance band, medicine ball and other exercise items.

Among the more challenging exercises they tried out was running on the spot with dumbbells, balancing on a wobble board and co-ordination exercises.

“I think all the exercises are good for body fitness, but we have to continue doing these exercises in order to make ourselves fit,” said Richard Tan, 63.

He believes the programme is good for health, especially for those who are ageing and living a sedentary life.

Interested in the “12-Week Silver Fitness Programme”? Call (03) 2142-1666 or (010) 213-5023 for more information, or surf to http://agedcare.com.my/products/12-weeks-silver-fitness-programme/.

Taking care of elderly in townships

By BRIGITTE ROZARIO

 

THE population of Malaysia is ageing – this much is clear. In just five years, the number of Malaysians aged 60 years and older is projected to increase to 3.4 million, making up 9.9% of the population.

This presents many challenges to aged care operators and property developers who grapple with how to provide the necessary facilities and services to this segment of society without breaking the bank.

“This is an opportunity,” said Carol Yip, Aged Care Group chief executive officer, at a FIABCI Malaysia morning talk at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort, Kuala Lumpur, last week.

She was talking about aged care facilities within new townships and the transformation of existing ones.

Current situation

Comparing Malaysia to developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand and England, Yip said the aged care facilities in those countries are highly regulated.

“Everything is audited. Why? Because the government gives them the money to operate. But in Malaysia, we have to take care of ourselves,” she said.

There are many unlicensed nursing homes and care centres, operating from bungalows and terrrace houses in the towns and cities across Malaysia.

This shows that there is great demand and not enough supply.

To make matters worse, there is no one Act in Malaysia to regulate both the care centres and nursing homes. Currently, the nursing homes (for dependent elderly) is regulated by the Private Healthcare Facilities & Services Act 1998, under the purview of the Ministry of Health.

While the care centres (for those who need a low level of care) are regulated by the Care Centre Act 1993, under the Department of Welfare of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

So, there are two ministries, looking after two Acts. Plus, some of the nursing homes have low-level needs elderly, while the care centres also have high-level needs elderly – which is a non-compliance with the two Acts.

Realising that there needs to be better regulation, the Health Ministry is coming up with the Aged Healthcare Act.

What is needed?

Likening the elderly to children, Yip said we need to recognise that older people need as much attention and care as children.

She pointed out that the elderly need:

  • Mental and physical wellness;
  • Social and personal wellness;
  • Community and relationship wellness;
  • Health and emotional wellness; and
  • Community care.

According to Yip, cities and towns need to have continuum care, with property developments that cater for the active as well as the dependent, and with care facilities that take into account all stages of care until the last stage (palliative care).

Types of care needed:

Home care – This is for those who are still independent but need a bit of home care, which might only be temporary.

Day care – They might be lonely if they stay alone at home. At a day care centre, they would be able to interact with other senior citizens and participate in activities.

Integrated residential care centres (IRCCs) – If they have had a bad fall or are bedridden, they will need more care. This group would need an IRCC (also known as a nursing home). They would also need rehabilitation care.

Dementia care – As dementia is a very common problem now, society needs to be dementia-friendly. This means more awareness and education on dementia is needed. Dementia patients would also need a home where they can walk around, socialise and perform daily tasks in a safe and secure environment, instead of being cooped up in a room or house.

Integration

In addition to providing aged care facilities, townships should also look into the inclusion and integration of the elderly into the community.

“In townships, you must have schools and hospitals, so why not nursing homes? But the problem is all of us want to stay in our own homes,” said Yip, explaining that no elderly person wants to move out of their home. If they are given a choice, they would want to continue living in their home.

In which case, she asked if it is possible to develop houses for different generations, where the property buyers can stay from young until they are old.

“In the township, can we make it easier and safer for them to go out? We don’t allow children to go out on their own because it’s too dangerous. Can we do the same for the elderly?” asked Yip.

To be inclusive of the elderly, towns and cities need:

  • Walkways, jogging trails, bicycle/wheelchair/stroller paths;
  • Gardens, parks and playground for elderly and children;
  • Security and safety measures like help kiosks in public areas;
  • IRCCs for nursing and palliative care;
  • Care club facilities for elders and children; and
  • Intergenerational community living with aged-friendly and wheelchair-friendly infrastructure for apartments, houses and public areas.

How to do it

Yip spoke about building homes that are aged-friendly with security, panic buttons and wider doors and bigger bathrooms so that wheelchairs can go in and out.

She said that developers building new townships or those wanting to transform existing townships and cities need not start big.

“Cities and townships can start with a basic club for the elderly to provide them with a place where they can participate in activities like karaoke, which the elderly seem to enjoy.

“From there, developers can build according to demand, keeping in mind the elderly when they design homes, walkways, buildings and parks,” she said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken the lead in aged care, saying we need to build friendly townships and cities for the elderly.

These are the infrastructure requirements for an aged-friendly city according to WHO:

  • Housing,
  • Social participation,
  • Respect and social inclusion,
  • Civic participation and employment,
  • Communication and information,
  • Community support and health services,
  • Outdoor spaces and buildings, and
  • Transportation.

“Which is easier – focusing on new townships or transforming existing ones? I have spoken to developers in new townships and those working on existing townships, and I can tell you both are just as tough,” says Yip.

While admitting a lot needs to be done, Yip asserted the situation in Malaysia presents business opportunities within property development.

Township trends

Also at the morning talk was Ishmael Ho, chief executive officer of Ho Chin Soon Research. He commented that aged care facilities are necessary and, in fact, this is a future trend.

“Currently, no developer that I know of has integrated these facilities and used it as a selling point. If they were to integrate such facilities, it can be used as a selling point.

Ishmael Ho: 'Developers need to be brave and more visionary.'

Ishmael Ho: ‘Developers need to be brave and more visionary.’

“If they look at the ringgit and sen straight away, of course it might not make commercial sense, but if they have the vision to integrate the aged care facilities and use it as a selling point, then they will be able to give value to the purchasers in their townships.

“Developers need to be brave and more visionary,” said Ho.

Challenges

While the needs are there and it is a growing trend, trying to get all stakeholders to work together and move in the same direction looks like a gargantuan task.

According to Ho, progress must be made, and by right it should start with the government and the town planners.

“For the government to adopt something new is very hard especially when you’re talking about town planning laws. We still see parts of the city using old restrictions, for example plot ratio and density – these are old laws. Moving forward, we should actually change, and yet we are so slow to change,” said Ho.

He believes the government and town planners need to see a successful model in order to consider amending current laws and requirements to accommodate the elderly.

“To show them a successful model, it is the developer who has to take that initial step. We want to see a developer taking that risk and building a really fantastic township. Then people will start to recognise that at the end of the day, we need wholesome living and facilities for the aged, because everyone will get old one day. Therefore, moving forward, all other townships would follow suit as it is good for the people and the community,” added Ho.

However, the bigger challenge facing property developers is finding the right business model.

“The business model is still not very clear. It is still open to suggestions, and for the service providers to work with the developers. There’s so much to consider … the land bank size, the township, the immediate catchment nearby, whether they’re in KL, Penang, Johor … all of this needs to be considered.

“The developer themselves will play a role, in terms of whether they are financially strong, cash rich, and what their attitude is in business development. Some developers have a very fast turnover time, and they may not be keen to go into aged care facilities. The marketing strategy for their township also comes into play, as aged care may not gel with their marketing theme. So, all of this will affect the arrangement between the service provider and the developer,” he shared.

Working together

To get all stakeholders to buy in, Ho said there needs to be a good platform for discussion.

He pointed out that ASLI (Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute) would be able to offer a good platform for all stakeholders, including developers, the government and town planners, to thrash out the relevant issues.

“You don’t want only two parties talking. For example, the service provider talks to the ministry and the ministry makes changes; and then, everyone else gets upset. If you were to impose an aged care facility in a township, it would affect the developer. Now, they are operating on commercial land status and commercial land is very valuable, so if they have to use commercial land for aged care facilities it would be very tricky for the developer. The developer would have to build aged care facilities and forego building shophouses which are very profitable. Those are some of the concerns,” said Ho.

While there are challenges, he believes they will all be sorted out in time as there is no stopping this trend of building and transforming cities and townships to include the aged.

“It’s more about changing the stakeholders’ attitude towards aged care, then the law will change to accommodate the people,” he summed up.

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