Come September next year, Singaporeans looking for a nursing home across the Causeway will have another option.
China Healthcare group, a Singapore company which owns eight nursing homes here, will be setting up a branch in Taman Perling, Johor Baru.
It already has a medicare centre and nursing home in Kuala Lumpur.
Named Econ Medicare Centre and Nursing Home, the JB facility is about 30 minutes' drive from the Tuas Second Link, and has room for up to 199 beds.
Although it is not yet open for booking, the centre has received many enquiries on its facilities, services and charges, said a China Healthcare spokesman.
Singaporean customers of the centre can expect lower rates than those of Econ Medicare centres in Singapore although actual figures have not been released.
"Monthly fees in our Singapore centres typically range from $1,700 for a bed in an open ward to over $4,500 for a single- bedded private room.
"Residents at our JB home can expect savings of about 30 per cent due to the currency exchange rate," said the spokesman.
Unlike the Econ Medicare centres here, the four-storey home in JB will be more spacious and house amenities such as outdoor gardens, traditional Chinese medicine clinics and a pharmacy, he said.
A check with four JB nursing homes indicated fees ranging between $610 and $800 for a month's stay.
In contrast, 10 Singaporean homes The New Paper contacted charged fees ranging from $900 to $2,700 a month.
But there were not many vacancies and none in the only home that charges $900.
The big cost difference makes JB nursing homes attractive to Singaporeans.
However, there are difficulties.
For instance, the homes there must make arrangements for immigration clearance for their patients.
In Singapore, nursing homes have to meet a set of criteria set by the Ministry of Health before they are licensed to operate, said a ministry spokesman.
These include requirements on facilities, infection control, and staff capacity. In addition, those who wish to stay in government-subsidised nursing homes have to be referred by the Agency of Integrated Care, which will assess their needs and medical conditions before assigning them a suitable home.
In Malaysia, licensed nursing homes must also comply with a set of guidelines and have amenities and services checked by local health authorities before being allowed to operate.
This article was first published in The New Paper.