Putrajaya looking to ease licensing process for senior care centres amid red tape complaints

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — The Anwar administration pledged to hold “dialogues” with agencies that oversee licensing for privately community-funded senior care centres amid complaints of rigid bureaucracy that hinders operators from getting permits, New Straits Times reported today.

Over 80 per cent of these centres are operating without a licence because of heavy red tape, the newspaper quoted Association for Residential Aged Care Operators of Malaysia (AgeCope) president Delren Terrence Douglas as saying, as he pushed for the government to streamline the application process.

Of the 2,000 senior care homes in the country, only 401 were able to renew their licence, according to AgeCope.

In response, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri pledged to engage with the licensing authorities.

“Our officers conduct inspections at least twice a year, and we know whether they (senior care centres) are licensed or not because they require our recommendation to renew their licence.

“After that, they will have to seek approval from the local authority, the Health Department, the Fire and Rescue Department, and in Sarawak, they would also require approval from the Land Office. Different states have different requirements. So, all these must be complied with.

“We will work with them to identify their issues and help bring the matter to higher-ups. For example, I will raise the issue in our meetings with the minister,” she was quoted as saying.

Registration approval for care centres are valid for five years and operators must submit a renewal application six months before the registration certificate expires, the Federal Welfare Department said in a statement to the newspaper.

“These requirements ensure that care centres comply with all legal standards regarding building construction, fire safety, health, sanitation, cleanliness, and overall safety as stipulated under subsection 7(h) (of the Local Government Act 1976),” it was quoted as saying.

The severe shortage of senior care centres meant the government has been forced to let those without licence continue to operate, according to Terrence Douglas. There are only 11 public senior care centres with two palliative care centres per 30,000 residents in the country currently, according to AgeCope data.

“Based on the records of those registered with us, the lowest we have is five residents per home, but it can be as high as 150 people per centre.

”The total number of residents in all homes is around 30,000. So, the government cannot close down these unlicensed centres because they have no idea where to send the residents,” he was quoted as saying.

The pledge comes amid heightened concern over the country’s ageing population. Malaysia is transitioning to an ageing nation in six years, with over a fifth of its 31 million population will be 60 and above.

As of June 2023, there are 396 registered elderly care centres of which 76 are under the management of NGOs, while the other 320 are privately managed, according to the newspaper citing data from the Social Welfare Department.

To date, there are 1,028 unregistered care centres, of which 265 were elderly care centres.