Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, at the Official Opening of St. Andrew’s Senior Care - JOY Connect, 25 April 2015

The Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, President of St Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH) and Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS)

Board and Committee Members of the St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services

Ms Denise Phua, Advisor to Kampong Glam Grassroots Organisations

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Introduction

1.            Good morning everyone. I am very pleased to be here today at the official opening ceremony of St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH)’s newest community service, St. Andrew’s Senior Care - JOY Connect.

Singapore’s ageing population

2.            You might have heard this said ad nauseam, but it is an undisputable fact that Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly. In 15 years’ time, one in five residents will be 65 years and above.  The quality of life of Singaporeans in the future will depend very much on how well as a nation we prepare ahead to support seniors to age actively, healthily and gracefully in place.

3.            The government has been putting in place various programmes and services to support a growing senior population.  We have seeded and grown the National Wellness Programme across all constituencies in Singapore, to encourage our seniors to age actively. The Ministry of Health is stepping up its efforts to promote health to seniors in the community and workplaces. MOH is also rapidly expanding aged care services to support our seniors now and in the future. We will be increasing our nursing home, centre based and home care capacity by 2020. In fact, we will be doubling our eldercare centre capacity by 2020.

Community for All Ages@ Kampong Glam

4.            Even as we draw up our national plans, we are aware that several communities across Singapore have already aged.  Therefore, we have started the City for All Ages project some years ago.  Under the project, we go to different mature communities, to understand the seniors’ needs and partner the community to co-create new ideas to help our seniors age in place.

5.            Kampong Glam is one of them. By 2030, one in five residents in Singapore will be above the age of 65, but here in Kampong Glam, one in three of residents is already 65 and above. Therefore, a year ago, MOH partnered the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the local grassroots on a project to transform this Beach Road precinct into a Community for All Ages. Led by the local Advisor Ms Denise Phua, the taskforce maps out various strategies and services – in terms of social engagement, health promotion, aged care – with the vision of making this public housing precinct a distinctive “naturally occurring retirement community”. 

6.            As part of this effort, we have conducted an extensive health screening exercise and various health education activities for seniors in this community. Today, the opening of JOY Connect is yet another milestone. JOY Connect is an integrated one-stop centre providing both health and social care services, which include day care, dementia day care, rehabilitation and nursing services. JOY Connect also provides home care services to seniors who are home-bound. 

7.            I am glad to see that JOY Connect has already started to benefit Kampong Glam residents. Since the centre started operations in February this year, it is already caring for 49 residents.  One of them is 85 year-old Mdm Sito, who suffers from lower limb weakness and requires assistance in her daily activities. She is cared for at the centre during the day when her family is at work. Mdm Sito participates in daily exercises to maintain her functionality and looks forward to coming to JOY Connect to interact with her friends. 

8.            JOY Connect will complement the existing PEACE Connect Seniors Activity Centre to provide a range of social and health services to this community.  Seniors can participate in social activities, meet friends and keep themselves healthy at PEACE Connect, and receive care at JOY Connect. Together, the two centres create a caring and empowering environment for Kampong Glam seniors to live happily and independently in the community for as long as possible.

Centre-based Care and Home Care Guidelines

9.            While we work with providers to grow capacity and make care more integrated for our seniors, it is also important that we have a common vision of what quality care means. It is with this in mind that MOH convened two industry-led Workgroups comprising service care providers, healthcare professionals and policy experts to develop a set of Service Guidelines for Home and Centre-Based Care. In fact, St Andrew’s Community Hospital, which operates JOY Connect, has been instrumental in the development of the guidelines.  Dr Loh Yik Hin, CEO of St. Andrews’ Community Hospital, was the co-chair of the workgroup that helped to develop the Home Care Guidelines. I would like to take this opportunity to thank SACH, as well as all members of the Workgroup for your hard work and contributions.

10.         The guidelines articulate what good care means, and covers various aspects of care – such as care planning, clinical dimensions of care, dignity of care, the care environment in day centres as well as communication with clients and caregivers. Both the centre-based and home care guidelines have now been finalised after a series of industry and public consultations held over the past year. The guidelines are aimed at helping eldercare providers deliver care to our seniors in a way that is enabling, holistic and safe, so that our seniors can age with dignity and exercise autonomy regardless of their functional abilities. 

11.         JOY Connect has already taken the lead to implement many of these guidelines at its centres. For example, in line with the guideline on engaging and consulting caregivers in developing the clients’ care plan, JOY Connect conducts initial assessments with family members for all their clients with dementia. In addition to interviewing these clients, they also involve their family members in developing personalised care plan by asking them to share on their loved ones’ personalities and life experiences. Clients who love to take the lead in activities may be asked to assist therapists during group activities. JOY Connect also includes meaningful activities such as cooking sessions to help the seniors regain the ability to undertake activities of daily living.

12.          MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will support providers to work towards putting in place these guidelines. As a start, AIC will develop implementation guides to help service providers better understand the Guidelines. The Guidebooks will include examples of activities and processes that providers can introduce to achieve the outcomes specified in the enhanced guidelines. It will also contain useful references and tools for providers to use in caring for their seniors.

13.         AIC will also use the guidelines as a reference to develop programmes to enhance the capabilities of aged care providers. For example in terms of talent development, AIC will work with providers in developing new training courses that will enhance the knowledge and skills of home care and centre-based healthcare professionals in delivering  the quality of care set out by the guidelines.

Conclusion

14.         Let me end by commending the Anglican Diocese of Singapore for its efforts in providing services to the seniors in this community, through both PEACE-Connect and JOY Connect. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Denise Phua, Advisor to Kampong Glam Grassroot Organisations, and her grassroots leaders for their ardent support and strenuous efforts from the conceptualisation to the implementation of this centre. They have worked hard in going door-to-door to understand the needs of seniors in the community. They have also been forthcoming in their suggestions to ensure that the centre meets the needs of seniors in this community. With their continued support, I am confident that SAMH and SACS will help make Kampong Glam a Community for All Ages where seniors can age well, and be happy and independent in the community.

15.         Thank you.

 

 

 

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