The global growth of the senior population has led to new business opportunities and technology solutions in the aged care industry. Most elderly folks want to remain independent, stay in control and enjoy a premium quality of life in their golden years, but their abilities start to decline with age. Hence, this gave rise to the demands for aged care and retirement living.
These facilities provide a lifestyle that caters to the personal and social needs of senior citizens where they can access dedicated assistance in daily activities and medical support to ensure a healthy and graceful life.
Senior living facilities may feature:
i. Integrated Retirement Village
Beyond brick and mortar, seniors get to build connections and be part of an elderly friendly community
This integrates elderly-friendly designs, facilities and support services such as meal planning, housekeeping, routine medical check-ups, therapy, medication management and social activities.
ii. Nursing Home
A facility with different levels of medical care for the elderly outside a hospital. It is a long-term care facility and is typically for people who can no longer be cared for at home or require 24-hour nursing supervision. Services include meal planning, cleaning, laundry, assistance with showering, nursing care, medication management and social activities.
iii. Mobile Healthcare Service
A facility that provides personal and medical care services at the comfort of the elderly, for instance, in their own homes. This will improve the turnaround time of hospital beds and allow the elderly to recover in the comfort of their own homes with support from family members.
Emerging Global Trends
Currently, as reported by DataBridge Research, 605 million or 11% of the entire global population are above 65 years old. Euromonitor International projected that by 2030, more than 990 million people will age 65 or over and among the population aged 65 and over, the fastest-growing group between 2019 and 2030 will be the people aged 75-79.
The USA-based National Institute of Ageing projects that by the end of 2050; the global percentage of people aged 65 and over will increase from 8.5% to 17% (1.6 billion people) and inadvertently raise the momentum of demand in aged care.
Malaysia is progressing towards an ageing population, as those aged 65 and above are expected to make up almost 15% of the total population by 2044. 
Based on a study done by Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2017, Malaysia will take 23 years to double its population for age 65 years old and above (7% to 14%), as compared to Japan (26 years), United Kingdom (45 years) and Australia (74 years). Malaysia may even become an ageing nation while at a lower level of economic development status.
Factors contributing to the demand of aged care services include the affordable cost of services, qualified and trainable assistants/nurses with specific skillsets, increasing participation of startups and smaller players in localised regions, and technological advances of healthcare devices, wearable, traditional complementary service and customised medications.
Aged care services have made an impact in developed countries, such as the United States, Canada and Australia. Industry players are creating higher awareness and pressuring Governments on the need for quality aged care services within the healthcare ecosystem. In Asia, notable countries that have started to address the challenges of their ageing population are China, Singapore and India where aged care services are gaining popularity.
Many developing countries in this region have yet to adopt a comprehensive aged care concept and build the right infrastructure and facilities.
Aged Care Facilities in Malaysia
Generally, aged care living in Malaysia can be divided into two categories, namely the nursing homes and old folk’s homes. As of 31 December 2019, only 21 nursing homes (775 beds) were licensed by the Ministry of Health, while 350 private old folk’s homes (including those managed by NGOs) were registered under the Department of Social Welfare in 2018 with 6,927 residences.
To ensure that the minimum standard of care is delivered to the elderly in these centres, the Private Aged Healthcare Facilities and Service Act 2018 (Act 802) had been passed by the Parliament on 29 November 2017 and came into force on 29 March 2018. The new Act replaces the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 [Act 586] which regulates private nursing homes as well as the Department of Social Welfare – Care Centre Act [Act 506] which regulates care centres.
The Social and Welfare Department of Malaysia reported that the level of education of the elderly will keep increasing. More elderly folks are retiring with good incomes and social needs. Thus, this demographic shift will undoubtedly have profound economic and social implications, as well as new healthcare concerns.
Notably, the private sector in Malaysia is viewing this industry favourably and is exploring new growth opportunities to transform the senior living care industry. An inclusive aged care system is vital to cater for every aspect of senior living. Proposed models include the introduction of 3rd and 4th generation senior living facilities (care village model++). These facilities are equipped with high-quality standards and sophisticated medical equipment, as well as information technology platforms to ensure an effective communication network for the best safety of the elderly.
Adoption of digital technology in senior living such as the Internet of Things (IOT) and telehealth could provide real-time data, effective communication and the best support provided by aged care operators to minimise risk in managing the elderly.
Recognising the importance to tackle the challenges of an ageing population as well as the diverse investment opportunities, the Malaysian Government is integrating the aged care segment into the overall national healthcare ecosystem, while encouraging investors to venture into senior living projects and aged care service providers.
A prime example is Lifestyle and Healthcare Services Sdn. Bhd. that has begun the development of a 32-acres aged care village known as Millennia Village in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan in their effort to meet the evolving needs of the ageing population. This project would value add to the economy in terms of skilled employment and local business opportunities, as well as real estate development.
Malaysia is working towards the region’s quality aged care facilitation and development model. Hence, the focus is to ensure a high quality, comfortable and conducive environment at a competitive and affordable cost.
The country’s positioning among the world’s top private healthcare services reflects the steadfast commitment from relevant organisations in ensuring a dedicated continuity of healthcare amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malaysia was recognised at the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Medical Travel Awards 2020 by winning the highly coveted ‘Health and Medical Tourism: Destination of the Year’ title. Malaysia was also ranked first in the ‘Best Healthcare in the World’ category of the 2019 International Living Annual Global Retirement Index.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) continues to support and encourage capital investors and service providers to explore investment opportunities in the sustainable economic transformation for the aged care industry. The Government is already facilitating through the Investment Tax Allowance on eligible capital expenditure incurred within 5 years for new approved projects of private medical and healthcare centres of international accredited standards, and in support of the health tourism industry.
There are tremendous growth opportunities in Malaysia’s healthcare sector for investors to meet the demands of quality living for the global senior population. MIDA looks forward to facilitating investors that can raise the profile of senior healthcare services, particularly by introducing technology and innovation to address common challenges and improve services.
Source: MIDA e-Newsletter August 2021