Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC),
Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, Chief Executive Officer, AIC,
Award recipients and your family members,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning. It is a pleasure to join you at this year’s edition of the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA) and for the very first time, we are doing it via a virtual way. So, pandemic or not, it is not going to stop us from recognising the efforts that all of you have put in and also, to encourage you to pursue a career in the sector.
2. First, I would like to congratulate our award recipients. By taking this step to develop your career in the community care sector, you will now join the ranks of more than 380 community care staff who have tapped on this CCMDA to upskill themselves since it was introduced in 2017. Many of our past awardees have benefitted from the training to advance their careers and importantly, to return to contribute meaningfully to the community in ways that can help to our seniors to age better. And I hope that you will do so too.
3. The awards would not have been possible without the support of employers who are committed to developing a workforce, possessing the right set of skills that can keep up with the growing care needs in our community, and importantly, to invest in their employees. So I would like to also take this chance to thank many of our community care organisations for actually remaining steadfast in this commitment, especially amidst the COVID-19 challenges where we have to take additional precautionary measures to protect our seniors.
Appreciating our Community Care Workers
4. You have heard many people call COVID-19 the crisis of our generation and it has actually reshaped how we lead our lives and how we deliver care in the community. Since late January this year, our community care workers have gone above and beyond to support the nation’s fight against COVID-19. From stepping up on infection control to revamping the operational workflows so that safe distancing measures are in place, your contributions have ensured that aged care services in our community remain undisrupted and safe for many of our vulnerable seniors. Thank you very much for this effort. I would like to take this opportunity to also officially thank all our community care workers for your resilience and versatility in the face of COVID-19 challenges.
Growing Community Care Capabilities for Tomorrow
5. Now, even as we adjust to new norms that are brought about by the pandemic, we must continue to grow our community care capabilities for the future. In fact, by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above, and many more will also be living with chronic illnesses. And the truth is that all of us, will get to the age range someday. And as our population ages, we need to put in place a robust and comprehensive community care system that not only cares for the seniors who are frail, but also keeps those who are healthy meaningfully engaged. This means that the delivery of community care services will have to go beyond just addressing an individual’s health condition, and tackle aspects like social and psychological well-being. It has to be much more holistic, taking the person as a whole. To attract and retain a robust workforce that can meet the future needs of our population, we will need to redesign job roles, reinforce learning, and provide opportunities for our community care workers to grow in their careers.
Redesigning Jobs to Deliver Holistic Care
6. I will first touch on the redesigning of job roles. A rapidly evolving community care sector will need to be anchored by a committed and competent workforce. We aim to transform job roles to equip our community care workers with the skills to deliver good quality care, as well as to provide a fulfilling and meaningful career for all of you. So this year, the AIC, Ministry of Health (MOH), Public Service Division, Workforce Singapore, and several community care organisations have embarked on a pilot to redesign support care job functions within this sector. This is good news for many of you performing these roles in this sector. The goal is to create an enhanced job role that blends the different support care functions to encourage the cross-deployment and multi-skilling of staff. Through this job redesign effort, we hope that our support care workforce will be equipped with a broad range of skills that enables them to deliver better and more holistic care, as well as increase their opportunities for career progression to managerial roles within their teams. So I am excited to see how this initiative will shape our community care workforce, and to help us achieve better health, better care, and better life for Singaporeans.
Reinforcing Learning to Encourage Skills Upgrading
7. Next is reinforcing learning. In a time of change, the community care workforce needs to be future-ready. Every community care staff will need to be open to continuous learning and skills-upgrading so that you can remain equipped with the relevant care skills for our seniors. Our people that we care for, expect us to be at the top of our game, to always be ready to deliver the best care. While the CCMDA supports recipients in the pursuit of educational training, there remains a need to promote skills upgrading in the workplace as well. So I am pleased to also share that the AIC will appoint two additional Learning Institutes (LIs), namely, Alzheimer’s Disease Association and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, to the AIC Learning Network from January 2021. This will bring the total number of LIs to eight, and provide about 11,000 training places yearly for the next four years. Now that we have about 20% more spaces, I hope that community care employers and the staff alike will seize this opportunity for further skills development.
8. Let me share with you one inspiring example. Mr Dennis Oen, a programme manager at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities, is an avid believer of life-long learning. He was a former operations manager at his family business, Dennis made a mid-career switch into the community care sector in 2018. He is currently a part of the Interim Caregiver Services team, where he reviews the nursing and caregiving needs of seniors who are about to be discharged from hospitals to facilitate their smooth transitions back home. Dennis has been keen in upgrading himself professionally to better support seniors, and so he took up a course on providing service excellence in healthcare under our AIC Learning Network in the same year that he joined the sector. Dennis has since gone on to pursue a part-time Master’s programme in Gerontology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences under the CCMDA ambit, and hopes that his newly-acquired knowledge and skills can help him develop services and programmes that can better suit the needs of our seniors. So, congratulations Dennis, and may you continue to be a role model for all your peers in the area of life-long learning.
Providing Opportunities for Singaporeans to Grow in their Careers
9. Finally, ladies and gentlemen, the community care sector needs to provide opportunities for Singaporeans to grow in their careers. Over the past years, MOH has been working with AIC to attract and groom young talents for the community care sector. I would like to share the story of Mr Khairul Rusyaidie, a recipient of this year’s CCMDA who is a therapy assistant at Vanguard Healthcare’s Woodlands Care Home. Inspired by a therapist who helped his grandmother regain her ability to walk after an extended period of severe osteoarthritis, Khairul entered the community care sector to fulfil his aspiration of making a difference in the lives of seniors. He is currently pursuing a Work-Study Diploma in Rehabilitation Care at the Institute of Technical Education, and is able to apply his knowledge that he learnt from the classroom training into the rehab sessions where he assists physiotherapists conducting exercises for seniors at Woodlands Care Home. I understand that beyond the Work-Study Diploma, Khairul hopes to further his studies, to achieve his aspiration of being a full-fledged physiotherapist. Khairul, your motivation and your drive to better the lives of our seniors is remarkable, and I wish you all the very best in your endeavours and I hope that you will also be an inspiration to many of the people in the community care sector, looking at advancing and upgrading themselves.
10. Our community care staff are at the heart of our efforts to redesign jobs, to reinforce learning, and to provide opportunities to grow in their careers. As the community care sector transforms, I want to encourage all of us here to continue to learn, and muster the courage to step aside and move outside of your comfort zone so that you can keep pace with a rapidly evolving community care landscape and continue to deliver good care to our seniors.
11. With that, congratulations once again to all our award recipients, and I wish you the very best in your journey to make a difference in the lives of many more in our community. Thank you very much and congratulations.