Reverend Dr Titus Chung,
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore
Reverend Alvin Toh,
Vicar of St. John’s – St. Margaret’s Church
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. It is my pleasure to join you for the official opening of St. John’s – St. Margaret’s Nursing Home, St. Andrew’s Senior Care (Dover), and Little Seeds Preschool@SJSM. Today’s event is the culmination of a 9-year journey to build a St. John’s – St. Margaret’s village to serve the community.
LIVING WITH COVID AND REMAINING COVID-RESILIENT
2. First, I would like to express my appreciation for your tireless efforts to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your clients, residents, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since coming on board the Care@NH initiative in February, the SJSM nursing home has provided care for 68 residents onsite, allowing them to recover from COVID-19 in a familiar environment. This also helps to preserve our hospital capacity for those who need acute care.
3. Vaccination remains our primary line of defence. Protecting us against severe illness in the event we are infected with COVID-19. I am glad that 80% of SJSM nursing home’s eligible residents have received their first booster. The nursing home is working with mobile vaccination teams to administer the second booster. I look forward to more of our seniors and nursing home residents getting their booster shots.
4. As we persist in COVID-19 resilience, let us all continue to exercise personal and social responsibility. With possible new variants, the community care sector needs to be well prepared and stay vigilant.
HELPING SENIORS LIVE ACTIVE AND MEANINGFUL LIVES
5. Second, I would like to talk about active ageing. All of us will eventually grow old. But it does not mean we cannot live active and healthy lives into our golden years. To do this, we need to take charge of our health early. That is why the Ministry of Health is rolling out Healthier SG. Healthier SG places greater emphasis on preventive care. Each of us are encouraged to enrol with their chosen family doctor and work with them to maintain and improve their health. There will also be stronger support for each one of us to improve our health, such as through recommending health screenings, and link-ups to relevant activities and programmes in the community.
6. Partners like SJSM Senior Care Centre play an important role in Healthier SG, promoting active ageing and helping seniors to live healthy lives.
7. SJSM Senior Care Centre anchors care for seniors in the community, enabling seniors to age-in-place. At St Andrew’s Senior Care Centre (Dover), seniors participate in social activities and exercises that help to maintain their health. The centre also integrates social services and healthcare. In addition to improving seniors’ mental and physical health, the Centre provides social services to support the emotional needs of these seniors.
a. Mdm Koo, aged 92, was initially reluctant to come to the Centre. To put her at ease, the Care Team engaged her at a pace that she was comfortable with, and directed their care approach towards the activities that she enjoys, like exercise. Mdm Koo now enjoys the Centre-based exercises and activities and looks forward to attending SASC (Dover) daily.
b. When Mdm Koo’s son contracted COVID-19, the Care Team went beyond their call of duty to make alternative care arrangements for Mdm Koo, and even ensured that meals were catered for both mother and son. This allayed her worries and supported the family in this difficult time.
8. Active ageing helps seniors remain mobile and delay the onset of illness. Nevertheless, some seniors will eventually become frail and may need more support. While these seniors may need more assistance with their day-to-day activities, they too wish to continue to lead active and meaningful lives.
9. Beyond the hardware, it is the “software” – the people, programmes and relationships – that matters. I am glad to know that SJSM nursing home places emphasis on person-centred care that enables their residents to spend their days meaningfully.
a. 90-year-old NH resident Mdm Koh was admitted to SJSM Nursing Home more than a year ago. She has hearing and visual impairments and needs help to manage her day-to-day activities. When SJSM staff Kim Chin learnt that Mdm Koh was a “ba zhang” (internal note: Chinese rice dumpling) wrapping competition champion, Kim Chin worked with volunteers to organise a dumpling wrapping activity for Mdm Koh. Apart from reliving her memories, Mdm Koh was able to share the dumplings with fellow residents. New friendships were forged. I hope SJSM NH will continue to empower your residents to lead meaningful lives.
10. In addition to supporting ageing-in-place in the community, we need to continue to make progress in the area of palliative care and enable seniors to live and pass on with dignity. And we know that most people prefer to spend their last days in a familiar environment.
11. SJSM Nursing Home’s collaboration with St Andrew’s Community Hospital under The Violet Programme helps to care for patients with advanced illnesses, and meet the needs of residents towards the end of life. Through the programme, staff conduct Advance Care Planning (ACP) discussions, manage symptoms, and provide bereavement support. SJSM Nursing Home is also able to better integrate care across settings through telehealth support and access resources such as controlled drugs.
12. This is a step in the right direction to anchor end-of-life care at home and in nursing homes, and to reduce transitions to hospitals that may not be needed. We urge more nursing home partners to step up and build capabilities to better manage residents’ last days.
INVOLVING FAMILIES AND THE COMMUNITY IN THE PROVISION OF CARE
13. Third, I would like to talk about the involvement of families, the community, and the volunteers in the provision of care. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all of society to support our elderly. What does such a society look like? Families working closely with providers like St Andrew’s Senior Care Centre to design ways to provide the necessary support for their aged parents, both at home and at the centres. Volunteers proactively befriending isolated elderly in the community and linking them to relevant partners and programmes.
14. I’m heartened to see that Little Seeds Preschool (SJSM) designs its curriculum to facilitate interactions between its children and the seniors at the nursing home and senior care centre. Imparting to the children positive values of honouring and serving the elderly. And supporting the holistic development of our children. Involving all generations in giving and receiving care.
a. Last month, residents from the Nursing Home and children from Little Seeds gathered to celebrate National Day. They had a good time singing familiar National Day tunes and bonding. The preschool plans to introduce weekly exercise and craft sessions with the seniors in the nursing home and senior care centre in the coming months. I am sure the seniors will have a renewed sense of purpose as they engage with the young. And the children will learn from the seniors.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND VOLUNTEERS ARE KEY
15. Moving forward, we will need to intensify our efforts and involve more community partners and volunteers in caring for our seniors.
16. I’m heartened to know that SJSM Village partners with volunteers to enhance the care experience for seniors at SJSM Village. For example, during festive seasons, a group of volunteers, GraceKitchen, create homemade bakes for the seniors and staff of the nursing home and senior care centre. GraceKitchen will soon be piloting a programme to involve nursing home residents and clients from the senior care centre in baking preparations. I encourage SJSM Village and all other providers to offer more volunteering opportunities for the community to be involved in the caring for our seniors.
17. Congratulations on the Official Opening of the SJSM Village. I wish SJSM Village every success in this new chapter. As it welcomes people from young to old, and brings volunteers on board to serve the community.
18. Thank you.