• Vol. 41 No. 8, 354–361
  • 15 August 2012

A Subacute Model of Geriatric Care for Frail Older Persons: The Tan Tock Seng Hospital Experience



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Introduction: The subacute care unit in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was set up in May 2009. We examined its impact on the transitions at the nexus between hospital and community sectors, patients’ discharge destination and functional performance.

Materials and Methods: We studied patients admitted during the initial 6-month period (May to October 2009). Differences in demographics, length of stay (LOS), comorbidity and severity of illness measures, functional outcomes (modified Barthel Index (MBI)) according to discharge destinations were obtained. We also studied the impact of LOS on the geriatric department and the bill size over the pre- and post-subacute implementation periods.

Results: Majority of the subacute patients’ hospital stay was in subacute care. Of these patients, 44.9% were discharged home, 24.2% to a slow stream rehabilitation (SSR) setting and 29.2% to nursing homes. 16.9% consisted of a subgroup of dementia patients requiring further behavioural and functional interventions, of which 50% managed to be discharged home. Functional gains were seen during subacute stay; with greatest gains observed in the SSR group. There were no differences in overall LOS nor total bill size (DRG-adjusted) for the geriatric medicine department during the first 6 months of operating this new subacute model compared with the prior 4-month period.

Conclusion: We propose this subacute model of geriatric care, which allows right-siting of care and improved functional outcomes. It fulfills the role easing transitions between acute hospital and community sectors. In particular, it provides specialised care to a subgroup of dementia patients with challenging behaviours and is fiscally sound from the wider hospital perspective.

The number of persons aged over 65 will increase from 8.4% in 2005 to 18.7% in 2030, which translates to absolute numbers of 296,900 in 2005 to 873,300 of older persons in Singapore by 2030. The life expectancy at birth has also increased from 79.1 years (2003) to 80.6 years (2007) at birth with expected life expectancy at age 65 years from 83 years (2003) to 84.1 years (2007). The ageing demographics as well as longer life expectancy have put more pressure on the busy public healthcare system given the increasing demands of hospital admissions, especially for frail older persons.

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