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Professor Ho Yew Kee, Chairman of St Luke’s ElderCare

Associate Professor Kenny Tan, Chief Executive Officer of St Luke’s ElderCare

My parliamentary colleague, Ms Yeo Wan Ling and the team that showed me around

Ladies and Gentlemen, Residents of Punggol

             Thank you very much for inviting me to join you here today for the official opening of the St Luke’s Eldercare’s newest Senior Care Centre here in One Punggol. As the team was showing me around, what they did not realise is actually many years ago, I had been looking at the drawings of this place long before we knew that St Luke’s was coming. David Ong, our grassroots leader and many in the team from One Punggol will know that we have been thinking and dreaming about what this place will look like for a long time.

2.             You say that the Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Board had some sense of the Gross Floor Area and the facilities that they need, you are trying to string it together into an integrated facility that will serve the community. So you have to imagine who is going to come and run this centre and what kind of job are they going to do? Is it going to go well, and whether the residents like it. You need a little bit of faith in the future and your colleagues and the system. Given this type of task, there are organisations, professionals, volunteers and people who will come together and do what is needed. That gives you some hope that you can serve the residents and deliver on your mission and have some confidence about the kind of future that we can build for Singaporeans and for Singapore.

3.             When I come in and I look at the wonderful facilities that you have here, the engagement that your clients and residents here in Punggol have with your staff, the enthusiasm when your staff talk about their work, the fact that many organisations send their students and interns, their professionals in training to come and experience this,  I think we can have some confidence and some hope that we can deliver on this mission, even as our society changes.

4.             St Luke’s plays an important role. Since 1999, St Luke’s Eldercare has been committed to caring for the seniors in the community. Across your facilities island-wide, St Luke’s ElderCare delivers a full range of integrated services and programmes that include centre-based, community-based, home-based and residential-based services. This idea of a full suite of services within a specific geographical region. We hope that our residents, clients, together with the many partners that you have managed to bring together will benefit from this integrated eldercare centre.

Ageing in the community

5.             By 2030, one in four citizens will be aged 65 and above and this places an increasing demand on healthcare services. In response to this demographic shift, the Government has rolled out Age Well SG, to improve the health of our seniors and support them to age in place. SCCs will play an important role in the eldercare landscape to help our seniors age well in the community and to provide support for our caregivers. This is important as it is not just the senior we have to think about, but the caregiver, family and society.

Efforts of St Luke’s ElderCare’s One Punggol Centre

6.             One Punggol Centre opened its doors in February 2023. The centre is running at a healthy capacity and ramping up well on utilisation, serving about 60 seniors daily. The centre provides community rehabilitation services, run by a team of physiotherapists, therapy aides and professionals. You are doing a great job.

7.             I am heartened to hear the many stories and examples of how St Luke’s Eldercare has supported seniors and caregivers in the community. In particular, I would like to share the story of 53-year-old Ms Liow. Ms Liow’s aged parents were both diagnosed with dementia in 2019. Ms Liow is not so old, she is my age. I am 51 and she is 53. We are of the same mind. I also have aged parents. Despite hiring a full-time helper and quitting her job to look after her parents, the caregiving burden was too much to bear when both her parents’ cognitive and behavioural functions gradually declined. Thankfully, One Punggol Centre offers day care services, and Ms Liow enrolled both her parents here in September 2023. This has eased her caregiving load. This has made a big difference to not just her parents life, but her life as well. That is the importance of the kind of approach that we need to think about which includes the family and the society. The fun and cognitive-stimulating activities that her parents do here are instrumental in helping her parents and her cope and helping them stay engaged with life and the society that they have. She shared that her father is now more alert after participating in group exercises and activities that promote development of  motor skills, coordination and concentration. This is just one example of ageing well in the community. What you do makes a big difference to not just your clients but their families as well. Much-needed support for their caregivers too.

8.             Beyond just rehabilitation care, the centre is also looking into how to better support and reach out to the community. This is done in collaboration with its partners, so that they can leverage on each other’s strengths. For example, One Punggol Centre has partnered Sengkang General Hospital to roll out functional screening where fall risk assessment was conducted at One Punggol Hub. This is a partner where you have a clinical institution, essentially looking at having some of their services deployed at your centre.

9.             A very different type of partnership is what we do with kids like Prof Ho mentioned. St Luke’s ElderCare has also collaborated with Skool4Kidz @ One Punggol to push out intergenerational programmes. Intergenerational programmes are a win-win for both seniors and young children. Seniors develop a sense of meaning and purpose when they pass on their wisdom to the next generation, while children learn how to show care and respect their seniors. They do not know this is an educational outcome. They think they are coming to have fun and it is okay. But we know as parents and grandparents, this is part of bringing up children – how to interact, show respect and understand the importance of our seniors.

10.           Take for example 87-year-old Madam Kang Swee Leng and five-year old Evan Hartono who share a close bond, having participated in many activities and outings in the past year. She always looks forward to seeing Evan and his friends because they are so full of energy. Madam Kang shared that she enjoyed her trip to the National Gallery with Evan and his friends as it was a refreshing break from her usual routine. Similarly, Evan and his classmates are very attached to the seniors at the SCC and I hear that they have been enthusiastically asking their teachers to organise more joint outings. Teachers, if you did not know about it, I put the pitch on behalf of the kids as well – more joint outings.

11.          But more than just the fun and educational outcomes, there is a social impact to this issue. The importance of this very simple interaction should not be under-estimated.  Those of us who have grown up in multi-generational homes or have the privilege of living in multi-generational homes, there is a qualitative difference when you bring the grandparents and grandkids together and have them interact positively. It makes a difference to the grandparents and grandchildren. Not everyone has the privilege to grow up and live in that environment, so how can we create this opportunity for many more Singaporeans for both seniors and the young.

12.          One Punggol Centre has done much over the past year, and I am sure we will hear many more good stories in the years to come.


13.           I would like to thank St Luke’s Eldercare for your dedication and hard work all these years. You have brought joy, dignity and health to the seniors whom you serve, and I look forward to seeing more of your good work in the coming years.

14.          Thank you and I look forward to meeting more of your staff and your clients over the years.

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