Minister Gan Kim Yong at Singapore Anglican Community Services - St. Andrew's Mission Hospital Charity Dinner

The Right Reverend Bishop Rennis Ponniah

President of the Singapore Anglican Community Services and St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital,

Board of Management of the Singapore Anglican Community Services and St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital,

Distinguished Guests,

1.    Good evening. I am delighted to join you all on this special occasion to celebrate 101 years of Anglican service to the community by the two community service arms of the Diocese of Singapore: The Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS) and St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH).

2.    SAMH and SACS have come a long way. SAMH started as a medical dispensary at Bencoolen Street in 1913, and SACS first operated as a small clinic in the 1950s. Both have now served our community for more than a century.

A Successfully Ageing Singapore

3.    When I spoke at the 100th birthday of Anglican community service last year, I recounted the many achievements and milestones of the development of SAMH and SACS. Tonight, I would like to talk about the future.

4.    We all know that our population will age rapidly in the next one to two decades. It is timely to plan ahead now, not just to address the challenges that come with ageing, but also pave the way for seniors to celebrate and enjoy their longevity.

5.    The Ministerial Committee on Ageing is engaging the people, private and public sectors to co-create an action plan to prepare Singapore for successful ageing. There are two objectives. First, to help seniors stay socially, economically and cognitively active for as long as possible. Second, to enable seniors to live independently and age gracefully in place, even as they get more frail in their fourth age.

6.    As I look into the future, I see a Successfully Ageing Singapore. I see seniors learning new things in our community clubs, schools or eldercare centres, coming together to make friends, to share interests and views. I see them as a new driving force of our economy, contributing and imparting knowledge and experience to younger workers. I see them as active members of the society, contributing to the community.

7.    I see a City for All Ages, where seniors have good amenities and access to home- and community-based care where they live, and where our public spaces and transport system are designed to enable seniors to move around easily and stay active.

8.    In the past few months, the Ministerial Committee on Ageing has engaged over 360 Singaporeans in discussing our aspirations for an age-friendly Singapore. We have many creative and thoughtful ideas and enthusiastic responses. With such energy, I am confident that the vision of a successfully ageing Singapore will not remain a dream but become a reality.

Pillars of a Nation for All Ages

9.    This is a vision that can only be achieved collectively if we have corporates, community organisations and individuals who are passionate about creating a Nation for All Ages, and working together to make it happen.

10.    The work of both SAMH and SACS is therefore more critical going forward. Over the years, you have built up a good range of step-down and community care services across the entire care continuum. SAMH has developed the St. Andrew’s Community Hospital and the St. Andrew’s Nursing Home. SACH has also built up its home healthcare services rapidly, with around 5,000 home visits made in 2013. Under SACS, psychiatric rehabilitation services are provided through the Hougang and Simei Care Centres, as well as the Community Rehabilitation and Support Services.

11.    With the wide range of services provided, SAMH and SACS are in a good position to provide integrated care for our seniors. One beneficiary is Mr. Richard Au. Mr Au suffered a stroke, which made it difficult for him to walk and manage his daily activities. After a period of rehabilitation at SACH, Mr Au was discharged. He returned home with follow-up care from the SACH’s Home Care team. The team had then assessed Mr Au to be suitable for transfer to the SACH Day Rehabilitation Centre for further rehabilitation. However, now the sole breadwinner, Mr Au’s wife had difficulty escorting him to and from his regular therapy sessions at the Centre. Fortunately, SACH helped Mr Au to get transport subsidy under the AIC Seniors’ Mobility Fund, and make transport arrangements for Mr Au’s regular trips to and from the Centre. I am glad to know that today, Mr Au is still attending regular rehabilitation, and is making good progress.

12.    There is still much scope for SAMH, SACS and indeed the wider Anglican community to come together and integrate efforts to build communities for all ages for our seniors.

13.    An example of this is the collaboration between St. Hilda’s Community Services and SACH, in serving the seniors within the Tanjong Rhu area. St. Hilda’s has expanded its “Friends” centre to provide social activities, day care and day rehabilitation, supported by the expertise from SACH, which also stages home care out of the centre to help seniors in the community to age in place. With the strong volunteer base of “ang sa” (red shirts), the efforts of St. Hilda’s and SACH have brought much laughter, happiness and meaning to a naturally ageing precinct. 

14.    I am pleased to note that SAMH and SACS will be partnering each other to transform yet another part of our heartlands into a “senior-friendly village”. PEACE-Connect Seniors Activity Centre, an Anglican Community Service project, has been operating in the Beach Road precinct at Kampong Glam since 2003. This is an ageing precinct. Together with MSF and MOH, and under the guidance of the local Advisor Ms Denise Phua, SAMH and SACS will be working together to enhance the services in this precinct. SACH will develop a new Senior Care Centre, St. Andrew’s JOY Connect, to provide day care, dementia day care, community rehabilitation and centre-based nursing care. PEACE Connect will further expand its social activity centre in order to involve more seniors in active ageing activities. These plans are expected to be implemented by next year. I encourage both SAMH and SACS to continue to evolve their services and also think of breaking new ground, such as starting up senior learning in the precinct.

15.    We can build a Nation for All Ages. But this should be a sustained effort, not just by us here, but also generations after us. I encourage the schools within the Anglican Community to do their part in educating our young in issues relating to ageing. There is much more we can do to strengthen the values of respect and care for our seniors, among our young. The Anglican schools can take the lead to champion inter-generational interactions and learning within the campuses. It is also never too late to start to inculcate a positive image of ageing and the aged among our younger generation, because these perceptions will make a critical difference to the quality of their ageing in future.

Conclusion

16.     In closing, let me thank the SAMH and SACS for your excellent efforts in delivering health and aged care. You are and will remain important partners of MOH. There is a lot of work ahead, but it is a future worth working for. Let us build a Nation for All Ages together. Thank you.

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