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[EMBARGOED] Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Second Minister for Health, at the Institute of Mental Health Nurses Day celebrations, 29 July 2022


Associate Professor Daniel Fung
CEO, Institute of Mental Health

Ms Paulin Koh
Chief Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health

Mr Raveen Dev
Chief Nurse, IMH



Ladies and gentlemen


Good morning.


1.     I am delighted to join you to celebrate Nurses’ Day today. It is good to see everyone in-person. I also look forward to speaking to some of you later.


2.     As Singapore’s only tertiary psychiatric hospital, the Institute of Mental Health (or IMH) and nurses like you play a pivotal role in addressing the nation’s mental healthcare needs.


Recovery Care Model


3.     The IMH today is a far cry from its past at the Yio Chu Kang premises. Back then, facilities were basic. The care provided was also custodial in nature. Patients were housed in a safe environment until they were stable enough for discharge.


4.     Since moving to the Buangkok campus, IMH has developed subspecialty services to treat and intervene early for conditions such as psychosis. Bringing about better clinical outcomes for patients. IMH has also developed care services beyond these walls with outreach and community-based services, integrating support within our broader national social support systems. These includes the Community Health Assessment Team (or CHAT) and Response, Early intervention

and Assessment in Community mental Health (or REACH), which provide mental health help for youths.


5.     There has also been a shift towards more holistic and person-centric care with the adoption of a “recovery care” model. This is key. Because it is not only about treating the symptoms alone. It is also about enabling persons living with mental health conditions to recover certain functions and roles. This must begin in the wards when their acute symptoms have stabilised. In this regard, nurses play an indispensable role.


6.     Hence, I am glad that IMH is committed to developing and empowering your nurses to take on a larger role in patient-centered care. This commitment is also matched by your nurses’ quest for learning, and willingness to go beyond their comfort zones. As we chart new grounds in nursing care.


Evolving Nursing Role


7.     Take for example, Nurse Clinician Shanel Yip Wan Ting. Shanel is also an Advanced Practice Nurse trained in psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT). These skills enable her to go beyond the traditional nursing function, where she can now conduct psychological interventions for her patients. She is also able to help fellow nurses better understand the impact of the illness on patients. For example, using her CBT knowledge, she shares with them how patients with psychosis may interpret hallucinations and delusions. With this new perspective, nursing duties in the ward have shifted from routine care to a more in-depth appreciation of the patient’s experience. This results in better quality care. She also keeps herself abreast with the latest clinical practices, guidelines and applications, and shares her knowledge readily. Shanel’s hard work have earned her colleagues’ respect and IMH’s recognition. She will be receiving the Nightingale Award for her outstanding work.


8.     Another nurse who has seen her work evolved is Assistant Nurse Clinician Chua Wan Chin. Wan Chin moved from an acute ward to the Short Stay Unit when it commenced operations earlier this year. These patients have different needs, and she spends more time with each patient individually. This is possible because nurses lead care management at this ward, with support from a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and allied health professionals. Her role has expanded from psycho-education to include developing a customised care plan, counselling, and imparting safety care skills that patients can practise when they go home. Despite having to step beyond her comfort zone initially, she has greater job satisfaction now.


Refurbishment of IMH


9.     While the efficacy of the recovery care model hinges on the care team, it is equally important that the hospital infrastructure supports such an approach. The IMH campus was completed some 30 years ago, and an infrastructure upgrade is timely to better support this new care model. To this end, MOH had, in 2018, committed to help IMH improve and update its inpatient care services and infrastructure.


10.     The refurbishment is ongoing and will be completed progressively. The Short Stay Unit was one of the first few facilities to be completed. It was re-purposed from an existing ward, and designed for patients who require short-term crisis intervention and stabilisation for their acute symptoms. Previously, such patients were admitted directly to the acute wards. But this is not ideal.


11.     Their recovery needs are different from patients with more serious mental health conditions. It is always challenging to provide differentiated care, especially with such varied patient profiles in the same ward. With the Short Stay Unit, IMH can now offer more differentiated care.




12.     With the right support and help, mental health conditions can be treated, and recovery is possible. Nurses play an instrumental role in delivering this care through planning, coordinating and being on the ground with their patients.


13.     I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all nurses who will be receiving the IMH’s Nurses’ Awards today, as well as the four nurses who recently received MOH’s Nurses’ Merit Award. This year, an IMH nurse, Mr Aziz bin Ab Hamed, also received the President’s Award for Nurses – the highest accolade in Singapore’s nursing profession. Aziz and several colleagues spearheaded a slow-stream rehabilitation programme aimed at equipping long-stay patients with independent living and vocational skills. Aziz tirelessly explored, experimented and resolved teething issues to bring several recovery care projects to fruition. Well done Aziz! May your achievements continue to inspire your fellow colleagues in the profession.


14.     I would like to conclude with some words to our nurses. Nursing is a noble profession and nurses are an indispensable part of our healthcare system. The pandemic has shown us how tough yet compassionate our nurses are. Every day, a new challenge awaits. But you choose to face it with grit and resolve, and in doing so, you heal and touch lives.


15.     Thank you and Happy Nurses Day!


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