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Mr Cheng Wai Keung, Chairman, SingHealth

Professor Ng Wai Hoe, CEO, Changi General Hospital

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today at the Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) 88th Anniversary HealthFest. I am delighted to see so many seniors  today in pursuit of a healthy and fulfilling life. What better way to start the day than by learning valuable health tips and take care of your health.

2. As some of you may have heard the statistics that are often reminded and informed to us, Singapore is on the path of becoming a super-aged society by 2026, with over a fifth of our population aged 65 years or more. This demographic shift brings both opportunities and challenges. With a better living environment, improved nutrition, and healthcare advances, our lifespans have prolonged. However, while our life expectancy is one of the highest in the world at 85 years, our health-adjusted life expectancy is 75 years. This means that on average, we spend  10 years in ill health. This is a situation that we endeavour to change.

3. In November last year, we launched Age Well SG, a national programme to prepare ourselves for an ageing population. We know that for many seniors, social isolation and loneliness is their greatest enemy. To fully embrace the benefits of longevity, we must place greater emphasis on pursuing active lifestyles that foster well-being and social-connectedness. This is why we are expanding our network of Active Ageing Centres (AACs), which will become key nodes for seniors to remain socially and physically engaged. 

4. In order to engage more seniors, we will leverage outreach by the Silver Generation Office (SGO) and their Silver Generation Ambassadors to actively reach out to seniors in the community, and encourage them to visit AACs. We will also improve the quality and range of programmes at the centres to be evidence-based and curated to suit the preferences of the seniors living in their vicinity. 

5. With these preventive measures, we hope to help the majority of seniors stay healthy for a longer time. 

6. While preventive care measures are crucial, we also recognise the need to do more for seniors with care needs. How can we ensure that medical and psychosocial support are integrated and delivered to these seniors in the communities effectively?

7. Recognising these challenges, I am happy to note that CGH has been working tirelessly to provide continuity of care from hospital to home. Through strategic collaborations with key community partners, the hospital has spearheaded various community-based programmes, designed to promote active ageing, social engagement, and overall quality of life. 

8. One such initiative is the development of Geriatric Service Hubs, which offer comprehensive community-based assessments to screen for and allow early interventions for geriatric syndromes of frailty, malnutrition and sarcopenia. This prevents further downstream complications like falls, injuries, fractures and vulnerability to diseases. This is a systematic process of assessing the needs of the seniors, covering medical, functional, nursing and psychosocial aspects. By prioritising the needs of seniors and working closely with their families to develop care plans, these hubs have successfully empowered seniors to stay functionally and medically well in the community and avoid hospitalisation. 

9. Another notable community-based programme is the Community Psychogeriatric Programme (CPGP), which is dedicated to improving the mental health of seniors living in the community. As we age, it is possible to experience anxiety and mood disorders, cognitive impairment, grief and loss. Early detection and timely treatment of mental health issues is important. Through a multidisciplinary approach involving psychiatrists, doctors, and medical social workers, the CPGP team partners eldercare agencies and caregivers in the community to provide training and consultancy support for staff of these agencies and primary care clinicians who look after the mental health of seniors in the community. 

10. The CPGP care team also provides holistic care plans, delivering clinical home-based assessments and interventions for older persons with mental health conditions in the form of psychotherapy, medical and psychosocial interventions.

11. One beneficiary of the CPGP programme is Mr Dennish, a retiree with multiple medical conditions including major depression. He lives alone in a one-room rental flat in the Marine Parade area and went through a period of low mood after he lost contact with his family in Indonesia, along with having to endure chronic pain due to his medical conditions. After he was referred to the programme in 2020, Dennish has been receiving regular visits and phone calls from the CPGP team to check in on his general wellbeing, monitor medication compliance, and encourage him to spend time in the community. The CPGP team also worked with various community partners to support Dennish with his meals and general cleaning of his home. Through these efforts, Dennish’s mental wellbeing has improved significantly and he has also formed new social connections in the community.  

12. Thank you CGH for being a valuable partner in transforming our nation to achieve better health, where we envision healthy living as the norm, and where each individual, irrespective of age, can thrive in a vibrant and caring community. As CGH commemorates 88 years of trusted care in 2023, I am confident that it will continue its efforts in educating and empowering members of the community to take steps towards better health and towards Healthier SG. 

13. The road to a healthy and fulfilling life is in our own hands, so let us embrace this opportunity to invest in our health, to be proactive in making positive lifestyle choices, and inspire and support one another in this journey. Best wishes for your health, have a great weekend, Thank you. 

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