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Dr Tjan Soon Yin, Co-chair, Singapore Patient Conference 2023 and Senior Consultant, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)

Mr Jasfer Chwa, Co-chair, Singapore Patient Conference 2023 and Patient Volunteer, TTSH Spinal Support Group 

Prof Philip Choo, Group Chief Executive Officer, National Healthcare Group

NHG and TTSH Senior Management 

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen 

Good morning. I am delighted to join you today at the 11th edition of the Singapore Patient Conference and the 9th edition of the Singapore Patient Action Awards.


2. As we look around us, it is evident that we are in the midst of a significant demographic change. Singapore’s population is ageing at a remarkable pace. Over the decades, we have achieved remarkable progress in improving healthcare and quality of life, leading to an increase in life expectancy. Today, one in five Singaporeans is a senior aged 65 and above. This is expected to rise to nearly one in four by 2030. 

3. This demographic shift is more than just a statistic though. It represents a profound transformation in our society’s fabric; a shift that demands our attention, compassion, and action. It is critical that we take deliberate steps to empower Singaporeans to age gracefully and embrace longevity to its fullest potential.

4. Earlier this year, we launched the 2023 Action Plan for Successful Ageing. The Action Plan aims to empower seniors to take charge of their own ageing journeys, and stay healthy and active through a multifaceted approach encapsulated by the 3 Cs – ‘Care’, ‘Contribution’ and ‘Connectedness’. A key focus area under the ‘Contribution’ thrust is to enable seniors to continue contributing to the community through volunteerism.


5. The theme for today’s conference – “Senior Volunteerism in Health and Social Care” – is most appropriate and timely. Many of us have witnessed the incredible impact of senior volunteers in various aspects of our society. We recognise that our seniors have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be harnessed. They serve as mentors, caregivers, advocates, and friends, offering a unique perspective that no one else can provide. 

6. However, senior volunteerism not only benefits the community. More importantly, it can provide seniors with a meaningful platform to stay engaged, and establish strong social networks where they can feel a sense of purpose and belonging.  As part of our efforts to promote active ageing, we should build a sustainable senior volunteerism movement as a strong call to action for our seniors to come forward and continue being active participants in shaping the future of our nation. We can do so in three areas.


7. First, we need to activate a strong network of partners to offer a diverse range of volunteering opportunities to meet seniors’ aspirations and needs.

8. At the National Day Rally 2023, PM announced a new national programme, called “Age Well SG”, which aims to empower our seniors to age actively and stay socially connected. A key element of the Age Well SG programme is to uplift and scale up our Active Ageing Centres, or AACs for short, to become key community nodes for our seniors, by delivering a wider range of active ageing programmes and volunteering opportunities such as befriending other seniors.

9. I have personally interacted with many seniors who volunteer at AACs during my walkabouts and I strongly believe in the positive impact of having senior volunteers contribute to their space and support their counterparts. This is because seniors often share similar life experiences and interests and are able to better foster meaningful connections with other seniors in their community. 

10. Beyond the AACs in the community, the healthcare Clusters play a key role in supporting a nationwide senior volunteerism movement. On this note, I am happy to launch the NHG Network for Senior Volunteers today. It represents NHG’s commitment to strengthen the volunteer ecosystem across community organisations and grow senior volunteerism. One example that demonstrates the close collaboration between NHG and its community partners across Central and North Singapore is the Health Kampung marketplace. This is a one-stop digital platform that features a comprehensive suite of community programmes, including a wide range of volunteering opportunities for seniors to easily access and sign up for. With this, seniors can be more empowered to select their preferred activities close to where they live, and make volunteering a part of their lifestyle to stay engaged and connected.


11. Second, it is critical that we equip our volunteers in the community with the right resources, skills and knowledge so that they can support themselves and others to age-in-place successfully, both in the community and at home. 

12. One way to do so will be the CHArge Up! Learning Programme initiated by the Centre of Health Activation (CHA) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) which has trained more than 1,000 residents. The trainings equip them with health skills, knowledge and confidence to care for themselves and for others around them on topics such as fall prevention, senior nutrition and enhancing mobility. Some of these residents have been further trained to support TTSH’s Community Health Teams in community screening events, often located within the neighbourhoods of where they live. 

13. One senior who benefited from the CHArge Up! Learning Programme is Mdm Lee Lan Yong, an energetic 78-year-old who has a love for exercise and a lifelong passion for learning. Mdm Lee had earlier learned some balancing and strengthening exercises from TTSH’s physiotherapists through a CHArge Up! Module. Now, she generously shares her learnings with her friends and fellow seniors in her weekly interest group and volunteers with TTSH as a facilitator to conduct assessments of balance, strength and functional capacity for other seniors. 

14. By empowering seniors like Mdm Lee, we can foster strong community networks where seniors come together to learn new skills to care for themselves and others. 


15. Last but not least, we need to celebrate and recognise the biggest assets in the community – our seniors. We often talk about the ‘gotong royong’ spirit in our community and how it lends vibrancy to our multi-cultural society. 

16. I want to take this opportunity to highlight the story of one of the recipients of the Singapore Patient Action Awards this year. 68-year-old Mr Seeni Davis has been a key pillar of strength and dedicated caregiver to five of his siblings for the past 15 years. They were diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy, a genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and atrophy. After his brother’s admission to the Methodist Welfare Services’ nursing home, Davis provided pro-bono handyman services to the nursing home by repainting benches and walls, donating quality furniture, recoating parking lots and road safety lines of the carpark. I am sure both the nursing home staff and residents have benefited immensely from the improved living environment through his contributions.

17. Another example is a group of Malay-speaking volunteers from the Diamond Group, who have been bringing smiles and warm comfort to the terminally ill patients in Dover Park Hospice for more than 27 years. They offer companionship at the bedsides of patients who are too weak to speak; and organise celebratory events for the patients and their loved ones during special occasions such as birthdays and Hari Raya. Besides this, the volunteers often go the extra mile to prepare home cooked meals for patients to create a more homely atmosphere. 

18. As we celebrate the winners and nominees of the Singapore Patient Action Awards today, I hope that more seniors will be inspired by their courage, compassion and resilience, and come forward to help others in need. 


19. In closing, volunteerism need not be seen as burdensome and time-consuming. There are many ways we can give back, be it formally or informally, in the places we live, work and play. Let us build a Singapore where every senior has the opportunity to volunteer, contribute, and age with dignity and purpose. Together, we can turn this vision into a reality and ensure that the legacy of our seniors is one of enduring impact and compassion.

20. Once again, my deepest congratulations to all winners and nominees of the Singapore Patient Action Awards. Thank you and I wish you a fruitful conference.

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