Our primary aim was to study the need for community services as perceived by the elderly and their relatives. A secondary objective was to determine the predictive factors of need for these services.This is a survey of 115 consecutive non-institutionalised patients admitted to a hospital geriatric department and their relatives. Twenty seven elderly patients without cognitive impairment and 115 relatives were interviewed as to their need for community services after discharge. Services most needed by patients were: 24-hour medical helpline (33%), emergency alarm system (19%), social helpline (14%) and day care centre (13%). Services most needed by relatives were: 24-hour medical helpline (70%), emergency alarm system (40%), home visits by doctors (40%), respite care (35%), day care centre (35%) and transport service (33%). There were low levels of need for home help service, meal delivery service and the befriender service. Important predictive factors of need were: low ECAQ (Elderly Cognitive Assessment Questionnaire) score, low Barthel score, and absence of a carer. The development of community geriatric services in Singapore should be guided by the perceived needs of the elderly and their relatives/care-givers. This study is limited by its hospital-based perspective and small numbers. We recommend that further community-based studies be carried out to complement our study and extend our findings.
Singapore has one of the most rapidly ageing populations in the wor1d. The number of the very aged (>75 years old) has already increased from 42,700 in 1985 to 75,500 in 1995.
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