Speech by Dr Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health, at the official opening of All Saints Home Jurong East, 20 May

Mr Chua Hung Seng, Chairman, All Saints Home

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

    Good morning. I am happy to be here this morning at All Saints Home’s official opening of its fourth centre at Jurong East. Let me first congratulate All Saints Home on its newest centre. This centre, which can serve up to 194 seniors, has been in operations since last September. This is the second of two facilities awarded to All Saints Home under the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s Build-Own-Lease (BOL) Request for Proposal (RFP) framework. Last April, All Saints Home commenced operations at its other centre at Yishun which can serve up to 183 seniors.

Making Care More Accessible and Affordable

2.     In order to meet the needs of our ageing population, MOH will continue to increase aged care capacity. From around 9,000 nursing home beds in 2011, we have expanded our capacity to more than 12,000 nursing home beds today. We target to increase our national capacity further to 17,000 nursing home beds by 2020. We are committed to rolling out more facilities under our BOL scheme to partner more providers to bring care closer to our seniors. We have also improved the affordability of these eldercare services with enhancements to Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC) subsidies in 2012, and regular reviews of our funding rates.

3.     BOL facilities such as these allow MOH to ramp up capacity more rapidly. By lowering the upfront costs, we can also interest more providers, thereby making the sector more competitive. Through our RFP framework, we are also better able to appoint operators who can deliver quality and affordable care. The fact that All Saints Home was able to win both RFPs, and start operations at the two facilities within a period of six months is a reflection of its dedication and commitment to serve the needy. All Saints Home now operates more than 700 beds across Singapore and is one of our larger providers, having grown from a 30-bed nursing home when it first started operation in Hougang in 1986.

4.     MOH will continue to work with partners like All Saints Home to make nursing home services more accessible and affordable. We will also improve the quality of care through more stringent care standards, better care integration, and greater innovation.

Improving Quality of Care

5.     Even as we expand the capacity of our aged care services, MOH wants to ensure that seniors who stay in our nursing homes receive safe and quality care. We have articulated care standards with the Enhanced Nursing Home Standards (ENHS) which was launched in January 2014. The ENHS were developed after several rounds of consultation by a workgroup comprising nursing home operators and clinicians. The ENHS was introduced as part of licensing requirements in April 2015, and enforced from April this year, after a one-year grace period.

6.     We expect most of the nursing homes to be able to meet the enhanced standards. The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and MOH will continue to offer assistance to support the nursing homes that may face challenges in meeting these requirements. To date, more than 90% of nursing homes have worked with AIC to review their work processes in preparation for the enforcement of these standards. Since 2014, AIC has developed new training and learning platforms, in addition to existing courses, to help nursing homes enhance their capabilities in new requirements, such as care planning, psychosocial and mental health, and medication management. I am happy to note that All Saints Home has participated actively in AIC’s quality improvement initiatives and training programmes, and would similarly like to encourage all nursing homes to do so to provide better care to our seniors.

7.     We are also providing better integrated care. MOH is investing in home and community care services as part of the care continuum so that our seniors can receive holistic care as their needs evolve. We are co-locating our senior care centers within nursing homes, as well as delivering home-based care services out of our facilities that our seniors can successfully transition back to our community. I am heartened to see that All Saints Home has also started new centre-based services at its centres at Yishun and Tampines.

8.     To further bolster our efforts, we are piloting the Integrated Operator Scheme later this year. This scheme aims to develop regional providers who can provide “three-in-one” eldercare services within an area. Integrated Operators will be appointed via a competitive RFP process to operate bundles of three to four eldercare facilities providing nursing home, centre-based care, and home care services. This will allow them to continue looking after seniors as they transition between residential and non-residential aged care settings. Integrated Operators will also be able to provide better and more affordable care through economies of scale, and to offer more workforce development opportunities for their staff.

9.     We are also encouraging greater innovation of care models to meet the changing needs of our ageing population. We have worked with partner organisations to put in place funds such as Tote Board Community Healthcare Fund and Community Silver Trust to support innovation. I am happy to note All Saints Home’s commitment towards continuous innovation. For instance, in its Centre at Yishun, All Saints Home has installed a fall alert system with a patient positioning support device to alert the care staff of a fall and the location so that immediate assistance can be rendered. All Saints Home has also created its own therapeutic garden with greenery for their residents, and day care clients as well as for the community to enjoy. It has also started a soup kitchen to reach out to seniors in the community. Over here at Jurong East, All Saints Home has partnered AIC to strengthen its dementia care capability through attachments, training and workshops, and make its wards more dementia-friendly. Under the 360o CARE model, All Saints Home’s team of doctors, therapists and nurses also aims to provide person-centred care based on each dementia resident’s needs, abilities and psychological well-being.

Engaging the Community

10.     This centre we see today is testimony to the close collaboration between the All Saints Home team and the whole community here at Jurong East. The community has been supportive in volunteering at this centre, befriending and caring for their residents. I am heartened to learn that many volunteers from all walks of life spend their time at this centre, including student volunteers from the neighbouring schools, as well as residents from surrounding residences. Organisations such as Lions Club International have also brought regular performances to entertain and bring joy to the seniors here. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Grace Fu, Adviser to grassroots organisations in Yuhua, and her grassroots leaders for their support and efforts in welcoming All Saints Home into this community. This facility would not have been possible without your collective efforts, and I am confident that the facility can be a valued member here.

Conclusion

11.     In closing, let me congratulate the board and staff of All Saints Home once again on the official opening of this centre today. MOH has done the easy part of providing the hardware and infrastructure, and looks forward to working with All Saints Home to put in place the software and heartware to provide a loving and comfortable environment for our seniors to grow old in. We wish All Saints Home every success in this endeavour.

12.     Thank you.

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