Tag Archives: Smart Investor

Affordable Housing

Paying For Aged Care: Supporting Ageing-In-Place With Healthcare & Affordable Housing

As property prices rise, the topic of affordable housing becomes an increasing concern. Factor in the growth of the ageing population and you’ve got new variables to consider when planning anything from policies to finance, housing and infrastructure. To overlook these factors is to invite a slew of social issues. As such, it is more urgent than ever to bridge the healthcare-housing divide.

In our previous article “Paying for Aged Care: The Trends & Challenges”, we discussed how the appropriate placement of seniors with the right level of care is essential to effectively managing the cost of long-term care. Whilst in “Paying For Aged Care: Can Malaysians Afford it?”, we’ve identified accessibility to care is a need regardless of lifestyle.

Affordable housing is more than merely the ability to pay off the house loan. It’s also being able to meet long-term care costs – such as assisted daily living, rehab and medical care – when needed, apart from basic living needs like food, clothing and transportation.

So the question is: how can housing for seniors be made an affordable affair?

Preference For Age-In-Place
Malaysians have a cultural preference to age in one’s own home. We would rather remain in our communities with family, friends and neighbors for as long as possible during our old age. Yet many homes and communities lack key structural features that enables seniors to live there safely and independently.

Meanwhile, family members often provide the backbone of the informal long-term care routine at home, becoming caregivers and financing the senior’s care. It costs no small amount to pay for long-term care services and support when the senior requires assistance with daily living tasks.

Hence, while ageing-in-place is cost-effective, it is only so if the challenges in our care delivery’s efficiency – which naturally affects the cost – is addressed. To respond to these challenges and create affordable housing that supports seniors – and by extension their caregivers – we must more tightly link our nation’s housing and healthcare system under an integrated care model.

Home & Continuum Care
An integrated care model for ageing-in-place is a concept much practiced in developed countries. The model integrates a network of formal home care and respite care services with day care centres, as well as nursing homes into the community – catering to moderate and severe needs alike. Continuum care is a chain of services provided seamlessly from the moment one needs care till he/she no longer requires it is.

Embedding continuum care into communities would enable better utilisation of financial resources when households seek out care services, thus mitigating unnecessary spending arising from inappropriately allocation of care. In developed countries, day care centres are cost-effective alternatives to nursing homes.

For example, Singapore builds many senior activity centres and care centres as part of their initiatives for ageing-in-place within the community. The regulators aim to develop a range of aged-care services in every neighborhood to meet the social and healthcare needs of seniors, as well as to support their caregivers. This would also allow families to remain in close contact with the seniors while they are being cared for within their community.

As Malaysia is very much similar to Singapore, community-based day care centres would fit comfortably in our own integrated care model of aged-care facilities. Day care services would not only delay the need for entry into a nursing home or care centre, it is also a less costly route for seniors and their families to maintain their well-being if compared to home care – which can be more expensive due to the provision of personalized and skilled services at home. It’s a bonus that active seniors can enjoy social interactions with friends and neighbors, and learn new things to maintain positive mental and emotional health.

Setting Up The Pieces
In order to bring together a cohesive and comprehensive integrated care model while tightly linking our nation’s homes to the resulting network of continuum care, Malaysia’s stakeholders – public and private sectors alike – need to spur development of facilities, care services and new standards to uphold.

There are some day care centres for seniors set up by the Malaysian Department of Social Welfare throughout the country, however, the number are still too low and insufficient to cater to our growing ageing population. More day care centres within the community need to be built and operated by non-governmental organisations and business from the private sector.

Policy makers need to look into incentives for operators to set up more day care centres, while new standards for professional home care services – delivered by licensed home care operators – need to be designed in a manner that encourages provision of quality services at an affordable price. This would not only naturalise the use of these services by families as their first option, but also minimise the strain on limited government financial resources.

We also need to look into developing financial mechanisms that encourage sustainability of families to continually participate in the continuum care cycle. Financial support from the family may not always be possible due to the shrinking size of Malaysian families and emigration of grown children, as well as the possibility that family members may run out of money.

Examples of such mechanisms to ensure sustainability could be in the form of:

  • a means-test that determines how much subsidy each senior would be eligible for,
  • financial counseling and advisory initiatives to help families make better informed decisions regarding their ability to sustain payment for long-term care services. Or,
  • a compulsory long-term care insurance.

Conclusion
Time waits for no man, so does ageing. The question is if Malaysians can meet ageing prepared and on our own terms. The context of affordable housing has changed and the demand for ageing population is significant. We want quality communities in which to age well and enjoy life, free from deprivation of basic human needs. If we wish to age in acceptable terms, improved collaborations and efforts between stakeholders, regulators and the private sector is not only necessary, progress also needs to hasten as the window to come up with an integrated system that better connects our housing and healthcare grows short.

 


 

Source: Smart Investor, September 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group

*Quotation Source:
Yip, C. (2017). Provision of Long-Term Care and Payment Options for Elderly People Living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Figshare Database. (MD5: 27fe2fa9e373fd58476ef48896a524c1)

Investing for Retirement – Local or Abroad?

Now that you’re retired (or soon-to-be-retired) and no longer receiving a salary, how do you approach your investment portfolio? Experts have a golden rule when it comes to investing post-retirement: you can’t earn back your retirement funds without a steady income. For this reason, you better make sure you are making wise and safe investment decisions.

When you’re working with an active income, but your investments did not do as well as you had hoped, you still have a margin of adjustment. You could work longer and postpone retirement. Once you have retired, that is no longer an option.

Hence, following events such as the Greek debt crisis, Britain’s ‘Brexit’ and China’s recent market crash (albeit recovering), making investments overseas may seem like a risky endeavour and structuring your investment portfolio 100% locally based sounds like a safe bet.

On the other hand, reports from Khazanah Research Institute and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) show that the average Malaysian is retiring with insufficient funds. Compiled with other economic factors – such as the falling value of our Ringgit, the rising cost of living, care and medical inflation – you can’t help to wonder if perhaps you should take your chances and diversify your portfolio across countries.

If you’re in the midst of deciding whether to make an investment locally or abroad, here are a couple things to consider first.

Know your investment objectives
Whether to invest locally or abroad, it really depends on your investment objectives. You need to know the reason why you want to invest overseas. Making investments overseas does indeed carry various additional risks such as foreign exchange risk & geo-political risk. Therefore, as an investor, you would expect higher rate of returns to compensate for the risks taken.

However, if your retirement needs are already met or can be satisfied by a purely local portfolio, then making an investment overseas isn’t necessary.

4 Building Blocks to International Investments
There are good reasons to add international exposure to your investment portfolio. By broadening your investment horizon, you can tap on opportunities that are not available in Malaysia such as global conglomerates and high-growth emerging economies. Besides that, investing overseas can also add to the diversification of your portfolio.

But as a retiree (or soon-to-be-retiree), your retirement fund is critical to ensuring your quality of life and ability to live with dignity as you go down the journey of ageing. Hence, your decisions to make investments is especially critical at this stage in life. You need to be cautious and make prudent decisions to ensure it lasts.

If you have considered every angle and decided an international investment is what you need, decide on where you may need the spending. Keep in mind these 4 building blocks when constructing your investment strategy:

1. Understand the Risks
It is crucial to understand the risks involved in investing overseas. In addition to carrying all the general risks inherent to any underlying investments, there are also risks unique to investing overseas that you need to evaluate. Namely:

• Currency risks
• Political, economic & regulatory risk
• Selling time
• Additional costs
• Information risk
• Legal remedies

If you are concerned about any of these risks and need clarification, it is highly recommended that you seek professional financial advice before you invest overseas. Remember, as a retiree or soon-to-be-retiree, the aim is secure your quality of life during retirement. Its’ better to be safe than sorry.

However, once you are aware of the risks and possess the information necessary to navigate them safely, you’ll find the rewards are worth the effort. Despite the risks, foreign investments are a vital part of any well-balanced portfolio. There is plenty of growth and opportunities to be found overseas to not take advantage of.

If you have done your homework and maintain a well-diversified portfolio by investing only a percentage of your total assets in foreign securities, you can take advantage of worldwide growth in today’s global economy without taking on excessive risk.

2. Research the Region & Asset Options
You need to research what kind of assets that you would want to invest in, such as stocks, bonds, properties, REITS and etc. It is especially important to know what are the costs of investing in a particular asset overseas as it may be more expensive compared to the same investment locally.

Make sure you’ve compared the cost and risk to the expected returns to identifying high-quality income.

When you have decided on the assets you will invest in, you should consider which country or region to be exposed to. Understanding the country or region, the trends and socio-political environment is vital before you invest your money. It could make the difference between loss and gain.

3. Determine & Allocate
When you have understood the risks, the options available and the country/region of choice, you need to determine how much funds you have available and allocate the appropriate portion to invest overseas. You also need to determine what is your investment horizon – that is the total length of time which you expect to hold your investment.

However, if you are a retiree who is approaching the late stage of retirement, you will likely need to de-risk your investment portfolio and scale down the foreign exposure.

Another golden rule to follow is if you don’t have enough retirement fund, investing overseas may not be your main concern or priority. Your priority is to boost your retirement fund.


4. Monitor & Review

When you have made your investment, be sure to constantly review and monitor the portfolio. As foreign investments are more sensitive due to its additional risks, you need to ensure that it is well diversified to minimise any extreme risk or external shocks that may occur.

When to Make an Exit
Handling domestic investments can be challenging enough to deal with. Researching and analysing foreign companies puts an additional level of complexity as you have to deal with issues such as variances in legal and accounting standards, as well as obtaining up-to-date information as some foreign companies may not provide investors with the same type of information.

To navigate more securely as you make an international investment, you could outsource the management of the international portion of your portfolio to a professional who is well versed in the country or region of your interest.

The bottom line when it comes to making an investment overseas is to know how much money does your retirement needs costs and how these needs can be fulfilled by your retirement fund. When you have identified the funds you need, determine if you have the required amount to act as a buffer to investing overseas.

If this ‘buffer’ diminishes – that is to fall below the minimum capital that you need for your retirement needs – then you should stop the investment and make an exit, unless you have a good reason to continue.

 

Written by Aged Care Group in collaboration with FA Advisory

Source: First published in Smart Investor, May 2017

What Does Akaun Emas Mean For Your Long-Term Care

Early November 2016, news of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) officially initiating Akaun Emas was announced in newspapers and is set to be effective on January 2017. The specifics of how the Akaun Emas works is clear. When you reach the age of 55, an Akaun Emas will be opened if you continue to be employed. From age 55 onwards, your EPF contributions will be entered into the account and locked. You may only withdraw the accumulated money from the account upon turning 60 years old.

Your previous contributions – prior to turning 55 – will be consolidated from your Account 1 and 2 into one account called the Akaun 55. Money within your Akaun 55 can be withdrawn as a lump sum, monthly, partial, monthly and partial or annual dividends withdrawals.

At age 60, money from both your Akaun 55 and Akaun Emas will be combined to one account for withdrawals.

According to the EPF’s chief executive, Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, the purpose of the newly launched Akaun Emas is to be a second retirement nest egg for their members to further help serve their needs when they retire.

Whatever the concerns, the real question still remain; do you have enough money for your aged care and have you planned for it?

The Gold in Akaun Emas

To better understand if you would have saved enough for your aged care, let’s take a look at a case study. Mr Tan, 54 years old, is the sole breadwinner of his family with one wife and two children who are currently entering university. He is a full-time employee at Company X earning RM6000 a month. As soon as Mr Tan turns 55 years old in January 2017, his EPF account 1 and account 2 are consolidated into his Akaun 55, he proceeds to make a full withdrawal to pay for his children’s tertiary education. Still healthy and able, Mr Tan continues his employment with Company X and an Akaun Emas is opened for him.

He continues working when at the age of 60 he is stricken with 4th stage liver cancer. Throughout his employment, both Mr Tan and his employer’s contribution to his Akaun Emas remain at 11% and 12% respectively. With an average of 6% dividends from EPF, Mr Tan had accumulated RM 101, 675.79 in his Akaun Emas. Note that calculations are made based on the formula below from iMoney’s article “What Does The 6.40% EPF Dividend Mean To Your Savings?”

 

Formula for Annual Dividend Calculation

Opening Balance x Dividend Rate (6%) x 365 ÷ 365 (for full Year)
Formula for Monthly Dividend Calculation

Total contribution for Account x Dividend Rate (6%) x (Total number of days in the year – Number of accumulated days for the month + 1) ÷ Total number of days in the year

 

Mr Tan undergoes surgery and is hospitalised for 90 days before being discharged with the cost being covered by his insurance plan. Now in need of care, Mr Tan utilises money from his Akaun Emas to pay for care services and various supplies for daily living. However, Mr Tan knows his recovery from liver cancer remains unpredictable and worries for his family’s financial situation as his savings (and money from his Akaun Emas) can only last for so long.

 

The Cost of Care

In terms of the cost of care, how much is Mr Tan looking at? You may not necessarily identify with Mr Tan’s position if you have a fair bit more than Mr Tan from your savings and other investments. You might even be in your 60s and still healthy. Perhaps your children will pay for your healthcare costs. As evident by the recent increase in rates for first and second class wards in government hospitals, healthcare costs are rising and with the risks of living longer, you should still consider the cost for care as shown below:

 

 

If your cost of basic care for 5 years is RM 240 000 – excluding inflation, longevity risks, and unforeseen healthcare problems – does your savings sufficiently account for these costs? Despite the great boost in EPF savings the Akaun Emas provides for retirement, it can only cover for your care costs for 2 years (plus a little more if you include your savings) if you have similar circumstances as Mr Tan.

The Akaun Emas is a safe investment as the EPF – which guarantees a minimum dividend rate of 2.5% – has been performing well, as evident in the dividend rates given out being 4.25% – 6.4% over the last 15 years.

However, statistically many who reach the retirement age of 55 (68% of EPF members) have savings less than RM 50,000 and many retirees spend their all of their EPF savings within 5 years.

Furthermore, Malaysians are living longer lives with males and females at age 65 living up to 14.9 and 16.9 years longer respectively in 2015 than previously in 2010. That means the possibility of needing some form of care is inevitable hence planning for such is crucial and also to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on our children.

 

What Other Options Do I Have?

An option to ensure your savings and retirement plans are appropriately prepared for your aged care needs to put some of your savings into a CareTRUSTTM account. CareTRUSTTM is a living trust that gives:

  • Safety – Your money will be invested in a cash management solution offered by KenWealth by Kenanga Investment Bank. While the default fund has low risk, though you have the absolute discretion to switch and choose from the range of investment products offered by KenWealth.
  • Integrity – Rockwills Trustee Bhd (as the trustee) will safeguard your interests and only act on instructions to pay for your care needs.
  • Care Administration – You will have access to Care Administration to provide you with the right care and the right service at the right place and right time. Managedcare Sdn Bhd will assign you a Care Manager who will ensure the quality of care you receive is in sync with the appropriate healthcare and long-term care plan; based on care needs and financial affordability.
  • Coverage for loved ones – Your nominated Lifetime Beneficiaries can also benefit from CareTRUST™ account. can have 2 beneficiaries
  • Consolidated Assignments – You can assign your insurance policy to the CareTRUST™, allocating more of your money for your care.
  • Unclaimed Money Protection – Any remaining balance not spent in CareTRUST™ will be given to your nominated beneficiaries.

 
It pays to carefully consider what are your options for retirement and how your financial decisions influence your aged care. Though the Akaun Emas lock-in period is compulsory, you can still take proactive steps to plan for your retirement and aged care with your Akaun 55 savings to ensure your long-term care concerns are accounted for.

The Akaun Emas is focused on your retirement, but the accumulated money will not be enough to cover the cost of long-term care that we will inevitably encounter. There is also the risk of not being able to make our own decisions due to circumstances like dementia and etc. It is good to have another option which is safe, specifically focused on care, and will assist your decision-making to mitigate difficult situations arising from being of unsound mind.

 
First Published in Smart Investor, December 2016, Issue 320

Are You Financially Ready To Face Any Medical Catastrophe In Your Retirement?

Most working Malaysians rely on their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for their retirement, but whatever you’ve saved up in EPF may not be enough to fund your dream retirement.

With average life expectancy of a Malaysian at 75 years old, one needs to ensure his or her retirement fund can be stretched for at least 15 years, if one retires at 60 years old.

According to recent statistics released by EPF in 2013, about 70,000 active 54-year-old contributors have an average savings of just under RM167,000. What this means is a retiree will only have RM11,113 a year, or RM927 a month for 15 years in retirement.

That’s just slightly above poverty line of RM800 a month.

That amount is definitely not enough to fund your retirement. And the financial disaster can only be exacerbated by debilitating health problems that very often plague retirees.

Here are some of the common illnesses that the elderly in Malaysia are susceptible to due to physiological and biological decline:

1. Stroke

About 30.5% of the elderly in Malaysia have hypertension, and it is a well-known fact that hypertension is the main cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the third largest cause of death in Malaysia.

According to the National Stroke Association of Malaysia, about 40,000 people in Malaysia suffer from stroke every year. For stroke patients, early rehabilitation is crucial, and these rehabilitation treatments include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and even counselling.

The medical treatment of a stroke patient can be expensive, especially if one is not covered by adequate medical insurance. The hospital cost for a typical stroke patient accounted to 71% of total stroke care costs, in which approximately 41% was the cost of the initial hospitalisation.

Based on another study published by Singapore Medical Association, the mean total cost incurred by a typical stroke patient in Malaysia was US$547.10 (RM2,129). The cost is broken down further into:

graph

And of course, the more severe the stroke and the older the patient is, the higher the total cost will be. It is known that stroke carries a huge burden to individual, family and society. This stress can be relieved if one is financially prepared in the eventuality of stroke striking.

2. Cancer

The National Cancer Registry of Malaysia (NCR) estimated that one in four Malaysians will develop cancer by 75 years old. According to the Ministry of Health Malaysia Health Facts 2014, cancer is the top four cause of death in both private and public hospital in the country.

The top five cancers affecting both genders in Malaysia are:

graph

We all know that cost of cancer treatment is not cheap. Here’s an estimation of some of the medical procedures common to treating breast cancer in Malaysia:

Breast cancer

  • Mastectomy – Approx. RM10,119*
  • Breast implants – From RM10,000 to RM25,000^
  • Lump removal – Approx. RM5,210*
    * Cost estimated using Real Cost Estimator by Mahkota Medical Centre, based on the median cost.
    ^ Based on cost estimation by Da Vinci Clinic on WhatClinic.com

According to the Asean Costs in Oncology (Action) study by Sydney-based George Institute for Global Health, about 45% of Malaysian cancer patients encounter financial disaster — where medical costs exceed 30% of their household income — a mere one year after diagnosis.

3. Osteoporosis

According to International Osteoporosis Foundation, several surveys point to low calcium intake among Malaysians, at below 500mg daily for both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

Osteoporosis is one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal problems among the elderly. Based on the Burden of Major Musculoskeletal Conditions by World Health Organizations (WHO), musculoskeletal conditions are prevalent and they can cause severe long-term pain and physical disability, and they affect hundreds of millions of people around the world.

As a result, hip fractures are prevalent among those above 50 years of age. Hip fracture incidence in Malaysia between 1996 and 1997 in those aged over 50 years was 90 per 100,000 individuals per year. This number would have likely increased due to the ageing population in the country.

The estimated cost for a hip replacement surgery in a private hospital in Malaysia is about US$7,900 (RM30,700). However, this does not include rehabilitation or nursing home care costs. With an ageing population, hip fracture numbers and costs are expected to escalate even further.

The above are just three common diseases that Malaysians may have to face, and these diseases are even more prevalent in retirement years. Without a back-up retirement plan, on top of your EPF savings, the chances of getting the treatments needed to recover or at least get the long-term care you need post treatment, are slim.

With medical inflation escalating at the rate of 12% a year, it’s time to review your medical insurance to ensure you are adequately covered for any medical eventualities in your golden years. To ensure you cover all bases in your old age, additional savings must be made to cover outpatient treatments that your medical insurance does not cover.

Plan ahead to ensure your retirement years will be according to your plan, with no hitches, even if you are hit by a medical catastrophe. That is the key to successful retirement planning.


Disclaimer: The following is the opinion of the writer and the recipient acknowledges that Aged Care Group Sdn Bhd and its associated companies are unable to exercise control to ensure or guarantee the integrity of/over the contents of the information contained.

First Published in Smart Investor, May 2016, Issue 313

The 6 Attributes of an Innovative Service Delivery in Aged Care

This is Sean’s journal entry No. 2: the previous deliberations regarding being financially secure to pay the cost of healthcare leads me to the second part of the aged care conundrum in Malaysia: The delivery of service.

In his commentary of property trends in Malaysia (Oct 13, 2015), UOA Asset Management’s CEO, Kong Sze Choon, stated that more than just nursing homes, aged care also refers to adequate housing, healthcare and medical services, community and leisure facilities that meet the needs of the elderly. The challenge is in providing world-class medical and healthcare for the elderly.

Simply put, a binding agent for a refined service delivery system is one that is capable of consolidating and delivering the necessary facilities, technology and services to assist in connecting the elderly, and, by extension, people with disabilities, with the services they need. So, what does an innovative service delivery in aged care look like?

According to The World Health Organisation (November 2014 survey), a well-functioning health system has a network of service delivery that possesses six attributes that characterises it as innovative. These attributes are: Comprehensiveness, accessibility, continuity, people-centredness, co-ordination, and accountability & efficiency. Together they form a coherent approach that acts as the driving principle for the health care delivery system.

Bearing these factors in mind, a service delivery network which functions on the aforementioned six attributes is particularly critical to prevent and manage functional and cognitive decline – further aggravated by the aforementioned challenges in Malaysia’s case – which older populations are increasingly experiencing as they live longer. Furthermore, it also encourages a lifestyle that would naturalise ageing-in-place, thereby reducing the physical and financial challenges inherent in long-term hospitalisation.

Comprehensiveness
Just as the likes of Uber, AirBnB and Kaodim have revolutionised the model of their respective industries’ service delivery, aged care too requires a similar remodelling. The age of individual sectors in Malaysia – providing their respective services in isolation – will not be sustainable to keep up with the impending “silver” tsunami. A new formula of comprehensivity of services and information is unquestionably necessary to meet the evolving demand of care needs that even now rolls in with the first waves of the ageing phenomenon. Rod Young from Australia’s Aged Care Industry IT Council stated that healthcare providers should recognise that good clinical care, good management and good data are essential to the performance of their organisation (ICT in Aged Care, Oct 26, 2015).

Accessibility
By “Uberising” the service delivery network’s platform, the nature of accessibility to care services is transformed and new avenues of cost-saving solutions are made possible as information on technology, products and services – along with transparency of pricing – is made more easily available. Consumers would be able to find and rely on new solutions – such as ageing-in-place technology, home care and multi-generational housing – for their care needs that adapt to their lifestyle instead of standard options that are typically cost-heavy and restrictive in allowing independence.

Glenn Payne, CIO of Feros Care in Australia, predicted that self-directed care would be the next big innovation in the aged care business with clients being able to pick who they want from a provider that connects everyone (Adopting ICT in Aged Care, Aug 31, 2015). Ageing-in-place options would be especially attractive as services such as telehealth – a collection of means or methods using telecommunication to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services – would make it a viable alternative. The elderly could retain constant communication with their doctors for monitoring and follow-ups via telehealth devices while in the comfort of their own home, negating the extra cost incurred by hospital stays and travelling.

Continuity
Considering the cycle of retirement, inevitably as people move from an active retirement lifestyle to their final phase of life, the service delivery network needs to follow the elderly’s transition into each phase, smoothly integrating various resources in a seamless and continuous flow. From independent living to assisted living, and finally dependent living, the network must be able to act as a central hub that is not only capable of providing continuous care for each stage, but also enable the elderly to find sustainable options and resources to continue having access to care, mitigating obstacles arising from the depletion of funds.

People-centeredness
The World Economic Forum stated that many baby boomers don’t like what they see when they come into contact with the aged care system, be it from personal experience or assisting their own parents, and they want improvements. They want better food in residential aged care, aged-friendly communities and pathways to be built or maintained so they can continue to walk safely in their communities (Why Aged Care Needs an Uber Moment, Nov 19, 2015).

Essentially, the service delivery network must be people-centred in its approach and structure, creating or packaging services that people want to use and have access to, that provides support to ultimately enable consumers – the elderly and individuals with disabilities – to remain independent. People should feel dignified by using these services, not ashamed for needing them. It has to build a life-affirming culture that empowers people, encourages social engagement, and brings generations together.

Co-ordination
Elaborating on Rod Young’s earlier statement, co-ordination is the fifth attribute, and it characterises an innovative service delivery network. As the central hub, the network plays a key role of co-ordinating the flow of information between organisations. By connecting a person’s points of care to a central hub, service providers will able to define and administer more appropriate solutions by accessing the same data and level of detail concerning the client’s medical condition (IT and E Strategy and Action Plan, July 2014).

This is where information and communication technologies (ICT), such as telehealth, would be essential to assist in spinning the co-ordination cogwheel. With the growing access to fast broadband connections, video and monitoring technologies are expected to create greater engagement between healthcare providers and clients themselves in a variety of settings, including their own homes.

Accountability & Efficiency
As a binding agent that consolidates healthcare resources, accountability and efficiency is the final essential attribute needed in establishing best practice strategies when matching clients with the relevant service providers – pre-screened to ensure quality standards are met – and appropriately centralising records. This is to optimise the best use of financial resources, maximise medical information accuracy and avoid duplication, and lift overall productivity. This would provide further cost savings for the client and increase the providers’ efficiency in meeting their needs. Hence, the elderly or disabled person can avoid situations that incur unnecessary spending such as undergoing several consultations with different doctors before meeting the one suitable for their care needs.

Getting on-board
There is still a long way to go before Malaysia’s aged care service delivery network is a smoothly running engine, but there are significant opportunities. When innovative products and services are produced and assimilated into the network, the potential of improved engagement between service providers, clients and families will open up pathways to exponential growth in business and quality of life for consumers.

 

First Published in Smart Investor, April 2016, Issue 312

To Spend or To Save: Are My Money Habits Putting Me At Risk?

This is the first journal entry of Sean, your average neighbourhood Joe from a middle income family and the only child of ageing parents, living in suburban KL. Thus far, I am able to make enough income to support my parents and continue Maria’s employment to look after my parents and manage the house.

I used to think I had all my financial bases covered thanks to a steady job and smart decisions on investments that paid off. I thought I had a solid plan to achieve my vision of a blissful retirement the moment I could make my full pension withdrawal at 55. I knew exactly what I was going to do to grow my funds while enjoying retirement. I was quite confident in my financial security and strategy. That is until Mum and Dad’s health needed more attention.

In a nutshell, Dad was diagnosed with third stage liver cancer and Mum’s health took a nosedive while we cared for Dad, all the while expenses rapidly rising. Even with Dad’s insurance and monies from savings and investments, it was very troubling financially.

Even though Dad had done his financial planning, he did not expect to be diagnosed with cancer. The accumulated wealth from his savings and investments did not adequately account for his healthcare.

I was very much in danger of repeating that mistake. This experience made me re-look my behaviour towards money, lest my saving strategies fail to account for the unexpected.

It is common for most Malaysians to take their entire pension at retirement with big plans to invest in a business, pay off financial commitments, go on a series of holidays or any other variety of indulgence (experiential or otherwise). According to Dato’ Steve Ong, CEO of Private Pension Administrator Malaysia, 50% of EPF contributors spend their lump sum within five years of retirement (‘Retirees need financial education’ – December 9, 2014).

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying hard-earned retirement savings so long as you have a solid plan and know what to expect. I have to know whether my spending habits are risking my retirement plans.

Last year, The Star reported that 90% of Malaysians chose to keep the full pension withdrawal age at 55 instead of raising it to 60 (Most contributors not interested in other withdrawal option – April 22, 2015). If Dato Ong’s statement is any indication, how many Malaysians who chose to keep the status quo will eventually become flat broke retirees in five years?

Coupled with the option for employees to keep 3% of their EPF contribution (Recalibration: Malaysia Budget 2016 Highlights – January 28, 2016), the question again comes back to “Do I spend or Do I Save?”

Without a doubt, some would favour immediate usage over the loss of higher accumulated wealth in the future. In some cases, the choice to lower contributions is justified, but is withdrawing a smaller pool of wealth at 55 the only risk?

As it is, Malaysian families typically find themselves repeating a vicious cycle of financial burdens due to healthcare costs. The scene usually consists of adult children supporting their own family and their aged parents, who have exhausted their pension savings.

When they become ageing retirees, in need of healthcare themselves, they discover their savings are insufficient to cover the costs and their now adult children need to step in. Thus, the cycle begins anew. Should I then risk lowering my EPF contributions?

Assuming your current salary is RM4,000 and you have decided to lower your EPF contributions, the RM120 you are likely to spend on a Friday night outing could have been RM43,200 more in the EPF for your retirement (and healthcare if age doesn’t treat you kindly), factors of salary increments aside.

In his interview with The Star (67% of EPF members not ready for old age – November 21, 2015), Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said only 20-25% of Malaysians are financially literate.

Yet even the financially literate are not immune to making mistakes in financial planning and investments as having access to more funds comes with a risk of overspending. This is especially true of those who might miscalculate each month’s spending in early retirement and leave too little for their later years, especially when medical and caregiving services are needed.

Not leaving aside enough for your healthcare needs later on in life coupled with the fact that people are living almost two decades longer (World Health Organization’s report, World Health Statistic, 2014) is a recipe for disaster. There is a major risk of poverty and even physical suffering as a result of outliving your accumulated wealth.

Russell Investments’ director emeritus Don Ezra stated that once retirees live past the age of 75, longevity risks (the risk of living longer than expected) exceeds equity risks, which is the risk involved in holding equity in a particular investment (Why I love deferred annuities – January 19, 2016).

With those risks in mind, perhaps it is time to look for an annuitising option – where I can rely on a set amount of income to arrive on a monthly basis, subject to the return of my investment – to help manage my spending during my retirement.

So, what are the options for the future of an ageing retiree?

Perhaps a service which channels annuitised payments into healthcare planning and services is needed. Given the nation’s impending ageing status, I imagine future circumstances will be very difficult for both businesses and the general public if these services are slow in development.

This development is certainly a step in the right direction if the nation intends to reach a developed nation status by 2020.

 


Disclaimer: The following is the opinion of the writer and the recipient acknowledges that Aged Care Group Sdn Bhd and its associated companies are unable to exercise control to ensure or guarantee the integrity of/over the contents of the information contained.

First Published in Smart Investor, March 2016, Issue 311

5 Ways To Find A Positive Retirement Life

Like many facets of life, post-retirement has its highs and lows. One minute you’re bursting with energy and a ‘come-what-may’ attitude to take on the world, to paint the town red. The next, you are unable to handle the day and staying in bed seemingly the safer option. Transitioning into retirement can be difficult and overwhelming with the sudden amount of free time in your hands but if you resolve to take charge of it, you will have an easier time navigating its’ waters. Here are 5 tips on how you can find your ideal retirement lifestyle:

Take life by the reigns, set significant goals.

A full life is made of significant events and experiences. One of the most anticipated benefits of retirement is the freedom from never having to work again. Set goals that encourage you to move towards doing something positive and impactful, not merely being stress free. At the age of 71, Sir Ranulph Fiennes (cousin to actor Ralph Fiennes) finished a 6 day 256-km marathon through the Moroccan desert after surviving two heart attacks and a double bypass operation. He has made polar expeditions and travelled the world by its polar axis, financed by funds he earned from lectures about his expeditions. Like Sir Ranulph, you need to picture what you want your retirement to look like and go full steam ahead.

Visualise, pursue and expand your horizons.

Continually challenging yourself would inspire you to focus on living a healthy lifestyle and not just be there for the entertainment value. Since you’ve also developed skills from pre-retirement, you can use it to nurture your new interests. Take a page of Toni Innauer’s book. A former Olympic gold medallist ski-jumper, Toni Innauer was forced to retire after a serious injury. Building on talents he had previously nurtured, he took up studying psychology and sport science. Today he is a hugely successful ski-jumping trainer and is now a respected public voice in the sport.

Be patient; accept that there is a transition period.

Prior to retirement, you spent the majority of your time dedicated to your career and now that time is solely yours. Don’t be surprised or harsh on yourself if you have no idea what exactly to do initially. Reaching the stage where your time is fully optimised will take some trial and error before you arrive at the right cocktail of leisure-yet-purposeful activities. You don’t need to rush; progress into retirement at a comfortable pace and eventually you should be able to find your place in your new role.

Do it to enjoy it. Love what you do.

The urge to splurge your time can be tempting, especially during early retirement. But don’t make the mistake of overcommitting yourself before you have a chance to become familiar with your new lifestyle. You live only once and there are no second chances, so pursue your passions and savour it.

Just because you are retired it doesn’t automatically mean you are the available babysitting service. If quality time with your grandchildren is what you want, good for you. Remember the purpose is to enjoy the experience.

Money can’t buy you love, but just about everything else.

Research states that people generally experience happiness later in life but if you want to ensure that state of mind, you should look into something that generates a reliable stream of income to replenish spent finances during retirement. A time will come where ageing is a constant companion and little things you used to do become a little more challenging. Nothing can damage happiness like a lack of funds to pay the mounting healthcare bills.

Retirement will have its ebbs and flows but how we choose to cope is up to us. With the right attitude and a little gusto; you can overcome the rough spots and steer your retirement towards the beginning of wonderful things to be.

 


 

 

Aged Care Group (ACG), an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services. Our vision is to innovate and transform the perception of ageing in Malaysia. For more information visit us at www.agedcare.com.my or contact us at 03 – 2142 1666.

 

First Published in Smart Investor | February 2016 | Issue 310

Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care – How Ready Are We Now?

The ripples of a rapidly ageing population in six years will see a significant impact on all areas foundational to life in Malaysia.

It is a common sight to see hired domestic help assisting an elderly with daily physical needs or a wheelchair bound elderly struggling to enter the neighbourhood sundry shop built with an elevated step at the entrance. However by 2021, this system won’t cut ice any longer with the ageing population booming exponentially and everything from healthcare to policies and infrastructure will be unable to cope with the demand. The issues and challenges that we have turned a blind eye to must be attended to now to address the deficits of aged care not only in the future, but in the very present now. Here are the issues that are in need of a thorough review.

  • Human capital – There is a distinct lack of quality caregivers, geriatric doctors and training courses for caregivers and other categories of nurses. What training courses that can be found on caregiving are rudimentary at best and the rapid growth of the aged population necessitates specialised focus on such training. Domestic house keepers, typically seen as the answer in the average Malaysian household, is not a viable option as they do not possess the skill and knowledge on specific caregiving duties such as administration of medicine or wound dressing, etc.
  • Infrastructure – An aged-friendly infrastructure is not only built for the physical needs of the elderly. It also acts as the tool that enables the elderly to be contributing participants of society as a result of being able to stay healthy, happy and dignified in the knowledge that the system supports them while preventing the decline into unproductivity due to loneliness and fears of inadequacy.
  • Specialised care services – Development of services for people with special needs such as geriatrics, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, mental illnesses and palliative care is essential as they not only serve in addressing physical or mental care. Markets like Singapore, Australia New Zealand, and Japan which have established senior living concepts and industry, understand that such services are the tangible arms of support of an age-supportive infrastructure that go beyond the clinical and well into the emotional being of the aged population.
  • Legal aspects – As a result of the current infrastructure, the roles and responsibilities of family members, operators, and enforcement agencies are not clearly defined. Elderly abuse is viewed as domestic violence in Malaysia and is not clear in cases of abandonment or neglect by the family. It remains largely unreported and no law is enacted to address it in definitive parameters. Operators of care centres (under the Care Centre Act 1993) and nursing homes (under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006) need to be legally accountable for the care of their charges. Currently, it is common to find care centres and nursing homes indistinguishable from each other with care centres, which are only supposed to care for those with lesser-care needs, also taking in high-care needs patients and the bedridden. The reverse is true for nursing homes.
  • Standard operating procedures & enforcement – In Malaysia, a standard operating procedure (SOP) for nursing homes and care centres is seemingly non-existent. It is evident in the line-up of licensed and unlicensed homes and centres that there is no adherence to regulations. Care procedures, along with quality of facilities, types of services offered and fees differ from one centre to another. With the population rapidly ageing, Malaysia needs to enact a standard operating procedure, where end-users will know exactly what to expect from standardised facilities when they pay a certain fee, followed by consistent enforcement of these standards. It is hoped that the situation will be rectified with the introduction of the impending Aged Healthcare Act. The concerns raised are not problems to be dealt with in the future. They are issues that will soon become our very present reality if left unattended. Hence, Aged Care Group, an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services in Malaysia, is organising the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care conference to address the challenges of Malaysia’s aged care infrastructure and the development of a viable model capable of delivering the highest value of quality aged care to elderly Malaysians.

The issues and challenges that we have turned a blind eye to must be attended to now to address the deficits of aged care not only in the future, but in the very present now.

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Aged Care Group is an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services in Malaysia. It seeks to be the frontrunner in all things related to the aged, building on the years of knowledge and experience of its shareholders and management team. With a comprehensive medical and health care system that is available to the general public, solitarily efficient in their respective areas of expertise, Malaysians have managed to get by thus far. We shift our mental ‘gears’ to accommodate different expectations as we enter the various stages and institutions we require for our care.

 

 

For more information on the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care (SRAC) conference, contact Aged Care Group at 03 – 2142 1666 or email info@agedcare.com.my or visit http://agedcare.com/sustainable-retirementaged-care-conference/

First Published in Smart Investor | October 2015 | Issue 306

Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care – Why it’s not a match made in heaven?

The Malaysian aged care industry is at its infancy stage. As we are becoming an ageing population, this will thrust the imminent growth of the aged care industry.

Embedding sustainability into the retirement and aged care business model will innovate and drive the growth of the industry. What is currently being discussed and debated over time is the ability of the industry as a whole to meet the growing demand for the aged care at a price, quality and proximity that is acceptable to the community of different levels of income and yet viable for the industry.

There is a profound social shift taking place which requires an equally profound shift in society’s mind set about ageing. Humans have strived for centuries to live longer; to cheat death. But the social change driven by our longer lives brings challenges, and for some, economic opportunities in the healthcare services industry.

Non-existence of a holistic framework for payment options for aged care in Malaysia warrants a strong integrated mechanism to ensure sufficient funding for individual Malaysians to sustain their retirement much less their aged care needs.

Thus, the impending dilemma requires a review of the financing systems currently available in order to formulate integrated retirement plans of aged care that considers the needs of consumers, the business imperatives of providers and the Government’s commitment to provide Malaysians’ sustainable saving choices for their retirement and aged care needs.

Such financing systems for review include cash savings, insurance, Employee Provident Funds (EPF), KWAP, ASB, ASM, Private Retirement Scheme (PRS), investments, properties, SOCSO and other sources including family and charitable sources.

With the engagement of Malaysia’s current economic climate, which continues to see the drop of the ringgit, to the growing necessity of an integrated aged care system, the proverbial elephant in the room needs to be addressed now.

  • How do we overcome the lack of funding from the government and the shortage of aged care services by promoting the industry to private sectors and not-for-profit sectors?
  • Why the need to call for an integrated financial system, products and structure to pay for aged care services due to the financial risk and longevity risk of Malaysia’s aged care needs – i.e. seeking an integrated approach towards funding for sustainability and participation from financial institutions – crucially essential?
  • How and what are the government, authorities and agencies doing to develop an aged care model that enables social sustainability and workforce sustainability?
  • What needs to take place by the regulators, financial institutions and individuals to formulate a financing system for the elderly for financial sustainability and how it can be done?

These are the questions that require effective answers, addressing the pressing need to establish a flexible and seamless aged care industry that provides Malaysians with more choices, control and access to a full range of services, wherever and whenever they need it at an affordable cost.

In other words, sustainability – as defined in the aged care industry – as the creation of an ecosystem which provides a healthy environment to maximise the quality of life.

Work In Isolation

The argument is that up till now, sustainable design and practice pertaining to aged care especially has been focused on components rather than on systems.

We tend to maximise our component of the work in isolation from everyone else’s component. The result of this tendency is that we get highly efficient individual components, but inefficient systems overall and perverse outcomes.

What is eminent is that when we think about sustainability it must be across the whole value chain within the retirement spectrum which includes aged care. This means looking at retirement and aged care provision as a whole and not independently.

In addressing the issue discussed and raised here thus far, Aged
Care Group (ACG) is organising the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care (SRAC) conference with the aim of becoming the catalyst that will create a paradigm shift in which the handling of aged care becomes a community effort.

The infrastructure of human resources, development, medicine, law and policies will come together smoothly as opposed to an individual effort. SRAC’s first objective aims to bridge the gap especially in the areas that pose as obstacles to meeting the growing demands of the ageing population, re-look at models that are available in the current Malaysian landscape to achieve adequate profit or surplus.

Businesses can draw a level of investment for a sustainable business
catering to the elderly that matches with their specific care requirements and financial affordability – in short their retirement portfolio.

Secondly, to develop an aged care model that is viable to deliver the highest value to our elderly Malaysians for the identified 3 income levels – the poor, the middle income and the rich. And finally, how to develop products that are able to provide a sustainable financing system for Malaysians to pay for their aged care needs taking into considerations of longevity risks and financial risks of aged care needs.


Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care (SRAC) Conference

22nd October 2015, Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Opening by a renowned local personality with presentation in the form of infographic about Malaysia’s aged care situation and how it should be transformed based on PEMANDU Economic Transformation Programme for Senior Living.

Each session will draw down pertinent issues involving senior living focusing on retirement and aged care – the current state of the industry, challenges, and opportunities, lessons from abroad and moving forward strategies. The delivery mechanism of each session will be to initiate dialogues amongst key players in the industry and audience participation to ensure valuable takeaways with actionable outcomes.

Great takeaways – Live event visuals – transforming ideas and words into hand-drawn visuals. Each attendee will walk away with beautiful summaries of the sessions that can be used as references for discussions immediately.

 

First Published in Smart Investor | September 2015 | Issue 305

How Prepared Are You For Retirement?

Sustaining a decent post-retirement lifestyle and care requires planning, and truth be told, we are running out of time every day.

A storm of ageing is coming and many a Malaysian is not prepared for the pension crisis fallout that is hurtling our way as Asia ages at a rapid pace. According to Lim Eng Seong, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth of HSBC, the Malaysian population aged 60 years and above will exceed the younger population aged 0-14 in 2049 as Malaysia’s population increases by 31.4% over the next 20 years.

That is an astounding over 37 million by 2030. HSBC cited in their recent ‘Future of Retirement’ survey that the two contributing factors to the under-preparation for retirement in Asia are; Asians saving too late in life and not planning for the unexpected. According to the survey which covered 16, 000 people in 15 countries, two out of every five retirees who had insufficient savings said they weren’t aware of the problem until they retired and many had not built safety margins against unexpected events or expenses such as rising late life medical costs, accidents, illness, unemployment, or other life events.

In Malaysia, the respondents stated that life events such as paying for their children’s education and buying a home and paying the mortgage impacted their ability to save for retirement, resulting in a concern about insufficient funds to last through retirement. Only 15% were confident in maintaining a comfortable standard of living post-retirement.

Private Pension Administrator Malaysia (PPA) has noted that Malaysians had the tendency to assume that their EPF savings will carry them through their retirement, yet the fact of the matter is 72% of EPF members had only accumulated savings at a mere RM50, 000 or less by the age of 54.

72% of EPF members had only accumulated savings at a mere RM50, 000 or less by the age of 54.

Coupled with the fact that readjusting to a post-retirement lifestyle from a pre-retirement one is difficult not only due to continuously rising inflation and medical costs, but also because spending habits developed over a long period of time before retirement is hard to break, 50% of Malaysian retirees end up blowing all of it in five years!

Additionally many Malaysians assume that their children will be able to take care of them during old age when it is more likely that the adult children, likewise impacted by inflation factors as well, will struggle to support them in addition to caring for their own families. The resulting anxiety is aggravated further in the later stages of retirement as quality services for aged and nursing care becomes an increasingly prominent factor.

However, much of the retirement risks stated thus far could be mitigated with proper financial planning. You must pursue financial literacy now through financial literacy programmes such as the National Financial Education Programme, which was suggested in the PEMANDU Economic Transformation Programme or programmes designed and conducted by Bank Negara Malaysia through a joint venture of both public and private sectors.

First Published in Smart Investor | March 2015 | Issue 299

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