Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health, at the Official Opening and 1st anniversary celebration of St Andrew's Nursing Home (Queenstown), 25 May 2018

The Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, President of St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services

Board members of St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services

Ms Joan Pereira, Parliamentary colleague

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today to celebrate the official opening of St. Andrew’s Nursing Home (SANH) Queenstown and its senior care centre. It is heartening to see so many healthcare partners, community partners and volunteers gather here for this occasion. This is testament to St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH)'s success in galvanising the community to meet the aged care needs of our ageing population.

2.            The number of seniors aged 65 and above in Singapore is expected to be 1 in 4 by 2030. The need for aged care services will grow as a result. MOH has been working with providers like SAMH to cater for this increasing demand in a number of ways.

Making Care More Accessible

3.            First, we are making care more accessible by expanding our capacity across our aged care services. We have grown our day care capacity from 2,100 places in 2011 to 5,000 places in 2017 and are on target to increase this to 6,200 places by 2020. We have similarly expanded our nursing home capacity from 9,600 beds in 2011 to 14,900 beds in 2017, and we are working to increase this to 17,000 beds by 2020. We are also increasing home care places. We target to increase this to 10,000 places by 2020. This nursing home facility and senior care centre will contribute significantly to these efforts, as it will have 297 nursing home beds and around 100 day care places. I also understand that your bed occupancy is 91 per cent. What we have also done in making care more accessible and affordable is to go on the Build-Own-Lease (BOL) scheme. Through this model, the government bears the cost of developing the facility, thereby supporting appointed operators like SAMH to provide more accessible and affordable care for residents. I understand that 400 seniors have collectively benefitted from the suite of residential and respite care services since Apr 2017, as well as community rehabilitation and day care services.

Providing Better Quality Care

4.            Second, we are working with providers to enhance the quality of care. Even as we are growing our suite of home and community care services to help seniors age-in-place in their homes, there may be frail seniors with complex care needs and weak family support, who will benefit from being cared for in a nursing home. For nursing home residents, we are working with providers to trial new care models by focusing on rehabilitation and improving the readiness of residents to return home.

5.            Another way we are enhancing quality of care is to make care more integrated. At this facility, the nursing home, senior care centre, and other partners work closely to facilitate better care for patients.  Mr Yong Kok Phoy is one such patient who has benefited from this collaboration. Mr Yong was admitted to the nursing home in May last year. He required assistance in activities of daily living including walking. Through rehabilitative exercises, Mr Yong was physically ready to return home in March this year. But first, he required help to adjust to living at home.

6.            To ensure a smooth transition back home for Mr Yong, the nursing home and senior care centre came together with its sister organisation, Peace-Connect Cluster Operator (PeCCO), the Community Resource Engagement and Support Team (CREST) and Jalan Besar Town Council to meet various social, health and transitional needs for Mr Yong. This included helping Mr Yong with the application for financial assistance, as well as the provision of daily meals with the help of Meals-on-Wheels. He has since settled comfortably back home. We are working hard to ensure there will be more successful examples of smooth transition from nursing homes back to seniors’ own homes, similar to that of Mr Yong, so that we can better support our seniors’ preferences to age in place at home and in the community. MOH and its partners are working together to have more successful cases such as Mr Yong.

Partnering the Community

7.            Third, we are tapping on the compassion, love, passion and dedication within the community to create communities of care to help our seniors age well and age in place – at home and in community, as far as possible. I am glad SAMH is engaging the local community to facilitate more intergenerational interactions with the seniors. For example, students from the Rainbow Centre Singapore have befriended seniors in the nursing home through craft sessions. Similarly, I understand that students from Queenstown Primary School, Queensway Secondary School, New Town Primary School, St. Margaret’s Secondary School, and St. Andrew’s Secondary School have on numerous occasions volunteered here and brought joy to the seniors of SANH Queenstown.

8.            Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. This also applies for seniors in SANH Queenstown, who have received much care and support from the community, and are now taking the opportunity to contribute back. One good example is Mdm Low Oo Hwa, who suffered a hip fracture and was receiving rehabilitation and day care services from the senior care centre.  After just three months, Mdm Low showed tremendous improvement and is now well enough to be independent at home.  She no longer requires rehabilitation. This is good news for Mdm Low and her family, but Mdm Low missed the activities and friendship she had at the senior care centre. To pay it forward, Mdm Low now volunteers weekly at the senior care centre, and we can always count on her cheerfulness in support and help other seniors receiving therapy.

Conclusion

9.            Underpinning these efforts is our mission to build a compassionate, inclusive and caring society. We are happy to work towards this in partnership with providers like SAMH. I am also glad that the Anglican family will be expanding their nursing home services next year. The Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS), with the support of SAMH, will operate the upcoming St Andrew’s Nursing Home in Taman Jurong, estimated to begin operations in the first quarter of 2019.

10.         I would like to thank Ms Joan Pereira, Advisor to Henderson-Dawson Constituency and her team of grassroots leaders, for their hard work and endless support to SANH Queenstown and its senior care centre for the past year. Their efforts have helped to facilitate the quick assimilation between the facility and the existing community partners. I wish the facility every success and look forward to the ongoing collaboration with SAMH to meet the care needs of our ageing population.

11.         I wish everyone a pleasant evening ahead. Thank You.

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