SINGAPORE (Feb 5): Over the past 20 years, Haji Mohd Noor, 87, has been diagnosed with a succession of ailments — diabetes, prostate cancer and osteoporosis. His 51-year-old daughter, Rohana, had to quit her full-time administrative job to take care of him while doing contract jobs. Last year, however, hoping to re-enter the workforce, Rohana started searching for alternative care arrangements. Through Facebook, she stumbled upon Homage, which offers on-demand homecare services starting from $19 an hour. Thrice a week, Rohana uses the Homage app on her smartphone to book an appointment with a certified care­giver to accompany her father to physiotherapy sessions and take him on leisurely walks.

“Now at least I know there is someone to care for him while I’m away. He seems more chatty and energetic now because he has the caregivers to talk to. Sometimes they send me photos of him exercising. It gives me peace of mind,” she says. The same care­giver may occasionally be unavailable. But Rohana is willing to look past this inconvenience in favour of affordability. “So far, they have been able to take care of my father according to my preferences, so I’m not too fussy.”

Homage is one of a few start-ups that have entered the market for home-based healthcare as incumbent players report steady demand. The Home Nursing Foundation, a voluntary welfare organisation, served 4,688 patients in FY2016/17 ended March 31, up 3% from the year before. Similarly, social enterprise NTUC Health had 2,200 homecare clients in 2016, up from serving 250 families in 2014.

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