Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at Lions Home for the Elders (Bishan) Official Opening Ceremony, 18 march 2017

Ms Isabel Cheong, Chairman of Lions Home for the Elders

Ms Doreen Lye, CEO of Lions Home for the Elders

Mr Gilbert Tan, Centennial District Governor of Lions Club District 308-A1

Ms Angeline Woo, Organising Chairperson of the Official Opening Ceremony

Mr Chong Kee Hiong, my parliamentary colleague

Members of Lions Clubs of Singapore

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.     Good morning.  It is my pleasure to be with you at the official opening of Lions Home for the Elders at Bishan.

Building Capacity in Aged Care Services

2.     Singapore is ageing rapidly. Today, one in seven Singaporeans is aged 65 and above. By 2030, this will become one in four. The demand for healthcare services will grow as a result of our ageing population. To provide good and appropriate care for our seniors into the future in a sustainable way, we need to transform our healthcare delivery. We need to go beyond hospital into the homes and make the community the centre of gravity of care provision, especially for our seniors. 

3.     Aged care services play an important role in caring for our seniors. We are increasing capacity, including nursing home capacity.  We now have 12,800 nursing home beds, up from 9,400 beds in 2011. We will grow this to 17,000 beds by 2020. We support community partners like Lions’ Home in expanding their capacity too. Indeed, Lions Home has come a long way since its humble beginning as a small community home for elderly destitute in 1980.  With the move to this home in 2015, Lions Home now operates a total of more than 380 nursing home beds.

4.     Beyond capacity building, we are enhancing the quality of care with an increasing focus on quality of life and psychosocial needs of our seniors. In terms of hardware, we are enhancing the design of nursing homes to provide a more conducive environment. For example, at this home, we have sought to inject ample greenery so that the development is more aesthetically pleasing not only for residents in the nursing home, but also neighbours in the surrounding areas. We have also designed the facility to be more open with better ventilation. There are also more and larger communal spaces for residents to have activities and to interact with their family members. These are very important for the well-being of the residents.

5.     We are also improving the programmes within our homes. To encourage independent living, Lions Home has initiated programmes and activities that are conducted by their own residents, such as kopitiam sessions. The occupational therapist also organises outings for the residents, bringing them to places like Chinatown. These programmes aim to promote better quality of life for residents by enhancing their mental, social, and emotional well-being.

6.     While we enhance our nursing homes, we know that many Singaporeans still want to age at home. We are increasingly locating our senior care centres with our nursing homes, such as at this new Lions Home facility so that after the residents return to their own home, they can continue to receive therapy at the centre.

Forging Strong Community Linkages

7.     Ultimately, we can only succeed in caring well for our seniors if we all work together as a community. Lions Home is a good example. Besides providing good care for its residents, Lions Home has also reached out to the community in many ways.  It is currently serving more than 30 Bishan residents in its Senior Care Centre and Nursing Home.  An example is Ms Wong Kia Phin, a Lions Home resident. Her sister Ms Lilian Wong visits her every day. Staying in Bishan and close to the Home allows Lilian to spend at least two hours of quality time with her sister during each visit and assist with her sister’s physiotherapy. Lilian has also offered voluntary service to the Home as well.   

8.         Lions Home has also provided opportunities for employment in the community. Mr Liang Yong Meng, a Bishan resident staying nearby to the Home, joined Lions Home as a Maintenance Assistant in October 2015. He played a big part in the preparation of the Home’s move from Toa Payoh to Bishan, and is now a valued member of the home’s maintenance team.

9.         I understand Lions Home also partners surrounding schools in the neighbourhood and corporate organisations to befriend and bring cheer to the seniors.  In particular, staff and students from Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary and Secondary School have visited the residents during festive seasons and engage residents in meaningful activities like arts and craft, games and singing. These efforts have added much joy and comfort to the residents here.

A caring and inclusive society

10.       I am indeed heartened to see the strong spirit of service, community and volunteerism at the Lions Home. This will go a long way towards building a caring and inclusive society that honours and embraces seniors as an integral part of our community. This has been due in no small part to the support and advice from Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr Chong Kee Hiong, the grassroots leaders as well as surrounding Bishan residents, for welcoming the Home as a part of this community. I must thank all of you for your strong support.

Conclusion

11.       In closing, I would like to congratulate Lions Home on the official opening of the nursing home today. I would also like to express my gratitude to the management and staff of Lions Home, Lions Clubs of Singapore and the many donors and volunteers who have supported the care for our seniors at this home. I am confident that Lions Home will continue to inspire the community in its spirit of caring for the needy.  I wish Lions Home every success, as we work together to provide better care for our seniors.

12.       Thank you.

 

 

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