MOM investigating S'pore senior care social enterprise, highlights 'serious concerns' about operating model

MOM said that the enterprise's elderly clients are being subjected to "unnecessary risk."

Matthias Ang | June 14, 2023, 04:01 PM

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is investigating social enterprise Red Crowns Senior Living and its staff for potential offences under the Employment of Manpower Act.

In a Facebook post put up on Jun. 13, MOM said that it has "serious concerns" about the social enterprise's operating model as it could compromise the interests of its elderly clients and well-being of migrant domestic workers.

According to its website, Red Crowns Senior Living provides various services for senior care including the provision of caregivers, who are selected from licensed employment agencies then matched with clients based on their needs.

The social enterprise also says it maintains the relationship between clients and caregivers, as well as facilitate payments for the expenses of the latter.

MOM: Red Crowns Senior Living subjected its elderly clients to "unnecessary risks"

MOM further elaborated in its statement that under the law, the employer of a domestic worker is responsible for the worker's food, safety, medical care, job scope, accommodation and rest arrangements.

The ministry noted that in the case of Red Crowns Senior Living, while its elderly clients were the registered employers of the domestic workers, the social enterprise itself retained control of the worker's key employment terms and deployment.

"This subjected the elderly clients to unnecessary risks," MOM added.

It highlighted that should a domestic worker sustain a work-related injury, fail to receive their salary on time, or be provided with insufficient rest or accommodation, the elderly client would be held legally responsible.

MOM added that some of these "employers" said that they were "unaware" of such liabilities when interviewed.

The ministry concluded by adding that it would reach out to the social enterprises elderly clients and family members to provide assistance.

Red Crowns Social Living founder: MOM's announcement is a "surprise"

In response to the investigation, the founder of Red Crowns Social Living, Joshua Goh, posted a statement on Facebook on Jun. 14 in which he said that MOM's "public announcement" came as a "surprise" to the social enterprise.

According to Goh, Red Crowns Social Living has been cooperating with the ministry for the past 1.5 years to address their concerns.

Highlighting that the social enterprise has implemented "processes and oversight" in each of their homes to ensure the well-being of both clients and workers, Goh added, "We are given the authority, and work closely with the [elderly] and/or their families, to choose and hire the MDWs (migrant domestic workers)."

In cases where the elderly have dementia and are not eligible to be an employer, the children are the sponsors in the caregiver application, he said.

The domestic workers are also employed on "better than market terms" and work with the employers, or their parents, at the specified residence.

Goh highlighted:

"Currently we are providing our concierge services to 130 [elderly clients] in 33 homes across Singapore. We have reached out to brief out clients on this issue, and they have been supportive."

Care coordinators are provided to each home for oversight

On how the homes are run, Goh said that the social enterprise utilises existing HDB flats and condominiums to create a familiar home-like environment for the elderly clients, where up to four seniors share the home with two caregivers.

The role of Red Crowns Social Living, he added, is to act as a "concierge manager" in assisting their clients and their families to organise their age-in-place arrangements from accommodation, caregiving needs, household maintenance, to daily meals and activities.

Oversight is also provided by "care coordinators" and there are "open lines of communications" between the families, caregivers and care coordinators, Goh elaborated.

He concluded:

"We are fully cooperating with the MOM to address their concerns and hope to work closely with the authorities to find a solution that meets our elderly clients’ needs going forward."

Here is Goh's post in full:

Top photo via Red Crowns Senior Living/Facebook