Speech by Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, at the opening of Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Centre for Geriatric Centre, 25 July 2014

Mdm Kay Kuok, Chairman, NHG Board,

Professor Phillip Choo, Chief Executive Officer, TTSH,

Clinical Associate Professor Thomas Lew, Chairman, Medical Board, TTSH,

Dr Eugene Fidelis Soh, Chief Operating Officer,

Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih, Director of the Institute of Geriatrics and Active Ageing,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Introduction

1             Good Morning. It is my pleasure to be here today for the official opening of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)’s new Centre of Geriatric Medicine. It is delightful to mark this important milestone as TTSH celebrate its 170th Anniversary.

2          The centre comes at an opportune time, as we prepare Singapore for more rapid population ageing in the next decade. The Ministry of Heath has already embarked on plans under Healthcare 2020 masterplan to increase the capacity of both health and aged care services, while keeping them affordable. We have enhanced intermediate and long term care subsidies, as well as introduced the Pioneer Generation Package and Medishield Life.

Transforming Geriatric Care

3          Going forward, transforming the delivery of healthcare and aged care will be just as important, if not more important, than increasing capacity and enhancing affordability of care. We must make healthcare work for our seniors. We must deliver care that meets the needs of seniors, who often do not have just one medical condition, but multiple conditions. We must ensure that care is integrated, person centric and appropriate.

Centre for Geriatric Medicine: Innovative Care Delivery

4          This Centre for Geriatric Medicine at Tan Tock Seng Hospital complements the overall national efforts to improve healthcare for our ageing population.  It plays an active role in helping to shape the delivery of geriatric care services as well as to serve as a bridge between research and clinical practice.

5          The Centre, which has started to serve patients from March this year, has designed its facilities and clinical processes to provide integrated, elder-centred and holistic care for our patients.  

6          The clinic work flow at this Centre is streamlined such that the doctors and nurses belonging to a same care team are clustered together, to avoid the need to shuffle the patient or caregiver from one place to another.

7          A similar patient centric approach is adopted in its facility design. For instance, key services such as the Geriatric Gymnasium and Pharmacy are co-located within the clinic so that patients can enjoy greater convenience when they have same-day clinic consultation as well as rehabilitation sessions. The in-house pharmacy enables the pharmacists to provide medication counselling, reconciliation and dispensing.  A larger sick bay equipped with necessary infrastructure for bedside consultation also removes the need to wheel trolley-bound patients into consultation rooms. It gives the frail patients a more private, restful area to wait for their tests or consultations.

8          The Centre, designed to look like a home with a living-room style waiting area, provides an elder-friendly and homely environment that is warm, welcoming and reassuring. TTSH has given much attention to details, in order to address the needs of the elderly. For instance, the sitting style pharmacy allows staff to better engage the elderly on wheelchairs. For dementia patients, there is a quiet reminiscence corner with a cupboard filled with reminiscence displays, iPads loaded with cognitive stimulating games, and an indoor sensory garden. The garden provides a relaxing environment for the elderly, and at the same time, allows the caregivers on ways to engage cognitively-impaired patients through their sense of touch, hearing, sight and smell. 

9          Another innovation at the Centre is the mock-up geriatric friendly home, which includes many educational and safety tips to enable independent living. An Occupational Therapist may also use the space to do demonstrations, and assess the elderly’s abilities to be independent at home. The dedicated patient resource and education area will help patients and caregivers acquire the skills and knowledge to manage well when they return home.

10        The Centre is also partnering with the Joint NTU-UBC Research Centre of Excellence in Active Living for the Elderly and LILY computer technologies, to carry out relevant research to inform clinical care delivery for the elderly, as well as complement national research efforts on care for the elderly.

Action Plan for Successful Ageing

11        I am confident that the Tan Tock Seng Centre for Geriatric Medicine will transform the care experience of many of the elderly patients in Central Singapore.

12        However, making healthcare and aged care more accessible, affordable and relevant to our population is only one aspect of our overall national plans to prepare for an ageing population. We must give as much attention, if not more, to help our future seniors stay healthy, remain active and fulfil their aspirations for successful ageing.         

13        In May this year, I announced that the Ministerial Committee on Ageing intends to co-create with Singaporeans an action plan for successful ageing. Since then, we have worked with voluntary welfare organizations and senior groups to conduct focus group discussions to hear the aspirations of seniors from different segments of society. To date, we have heard from about 200 seniors in over 13 sessions. They have shared with us how they intend to live  life to the fullest in their silver years, as well as what can be done in the various aspects of health and wellness, senior learning, senior volunteerism, healthcare, housing, employment and city infrastructure, to help  Singaporeans age confidently. Starting in August, we will be launching a new series of focus group discussions to focus on some of the ideas surfaced at earlier sessions and we hope to invite more Singaporeans, both young and old and from all walks of life, to share with us their views.

Conclusion

14        Let me conclude by congratulating Tan Tock Seng Hospital and our valued partners on your commitment to supporting our seniors to stay healthy while they age. If we work together, I am confident that we can make Singapore a Nation for All Ages.

            Thank you.

 

MEDIA FACT SHEET: ACTION PLAN FOR SUCCESSFUL AGEING - PUBLIC FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS

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