Speech by A/Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Health), at the 3rd Singapore Rehabilitation Conference, 27 Mar 2014

Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth

Professor Ang Chong Lye, Deputy Group CEO, SingHealth and CEO, Singapore General Hospital

Associate Professor Peter Lim, Chairperson, Organising Committee

Assistant Professor Kong Keng He, Co-chairperson, Organising Committee

Distinguished Guests

Friends from overseas

Ladies and gentlemen

Introduction

1.         A very good morning. I am very happy to join you at the opening of the 3rd Singapore Rehabilitation Conference jointly organised by the Singapore General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I understand that there are over 300 local and overseas participants in this year’s conference from hospitals and the integrated and long-term care (ILTC) sector.

2.         The theme for this year’s Conference, “Rehabilitation in the Continuum of Care”, aptly captures the important role that rehabilitation plays in a patient’s journey to recovery, particularly in today’s ageing population, where rehabilitation plays a major role in the recovery of our elderly patients back to pre-morbid function and independence after major illness.

Continuum of Care and Integration of our Healthcare System

3.         Rehabilitation focuses on restoring patients’ functional status optimally. It also seeks to strengthen the patients’ mobility and activities of daily living at their home and living environment. For suitable patients, rehabilitation also helps to return them to work thus enabling to be integrated back into the workforce.

4.         At the national level, we have identified three strategic objectives in our Healthcare 2020 Masterplan - enhancing accessibility, quality and affordability of healthcare in a sustainable manner for all Singaporeans. To achieve this, one strategy we have adopted is the better integration of care across different settings through the re-organisation of our healthcare system into Regional Health Systems. Rehabilitation services can span across the care continuum of acute hospital, community hospital, centre-based community as well as home care.

5.         Our rehabilitation services are well developed in the acute hospital and community hospital levels. For instance, rehabilitation has increasingly become an integral and early part of care for the acute stroke, trauma and injuries at many of our acute hospitals. Specialised areas of rehabilitation services are also developed for more complicated conditions such as traumatic brain and spinal injuries.

6.         We are developing our centre-based community rehabilitation as well as home rehabilitation models to complement the rehabilitation care provided for patients during their hospital stays. Patients who require a longer period of less intensive rehabilitation can go to a number of Day Rehabilitation Centres. We are also providing rehabilitation patients with more holistic services at our eldercare centres. To provide greater convenience to our seniors and caregivers, we aim to provide both social care and healthcare services such as rehabilitation services, under one roof at our new eldercare centres. We have opened eight in the past two years, and plans are underway to open another eight this year.

7.         For patients who are more frail, or where there are physical barriers that make it difficult for them to travel to the centres, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will start providing subsidies for home therapy services from 1 April 2014. Therapists or therapy aides can visit the patients at home to carry out active rehabilitation to regain as much of their functional ability as soon as possible within their daily living environment, and for that, they will remain independent longer. Following that, the therapist may design and review maintenance exercises, and teach the patients’ caregivers to perform these exercises on the patients on a regular basis. The therapist can also visit the patients’ home to assess and identify preventable home hazards that could cause falls or injuries and to recommend home modifications to maximise the patients’ ability for independent living.

8.         As we improve our capabilities in the community and home rehabilitation areas, our hospitals are also implementing new models of rehabilitation care to facilitate patient in their rehab journey. For example, stroke patients with mild disabilities are discharged earlier to continue their rehabilitation at home under the National University Hospital and Changi General Hospital’s early supported discharge (or ESD) programmes.

9.         Under the ESD Programme, discharged patients continue to receive rehab therapy services and support in a home setting, thus, going home and able to adjust once home becomes an integral part of the rehab process. Many patients and families were motivated and participated actively alongside the therapists in accelerating the patient's functional recovery. Some patients were able to make the transition back to community and work successfully. This model of care has also reduced the length of hospital stay while achieving the same rehabilitation outcome.

10.       Moving forward, the MOH, as part of the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan, will continue to strengthen our rehabilitation services model and other clinical care models to leverage more on community and home care as we build sustainable framework of services to better meet the future healthcare needs of Singaporeans.

11.       Looking through the list of participants, I am very heartened to see that professionals from the different backgrounds and services coming to prepare this conference. It is very important. As a Member of Parliament, I often see residents or meet residents who need the different stakeholders in our continuum of care. So you coming along today, to learn and engage, and to take part in this process of engagement, shows that you care for your patients, shows that you are interested in the services that are going to be provided - how your patients will react and respond to the different level of services and parts of the continuum. This speaks volumes of your commitment to your level of services that you want to give your clients. I want to congratulate you on a job well done for the Organising Committee and as well as all of you – as part of your commitment, and passion for this service and profession to be here.

Conclusion

12.         I hope that the stimulating scientific programme, which the Committee has put together, will stimulate new ideas and collaborations amongst yourselves. I thank you for all the good work you do for our patients and wish you a great and an enriching conference.

 

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