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The Right Reverend Dr Titus Chung, Bishop of Singapore and President of St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services


Board Members of St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services


Distinguished Guests, Friends, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen


1.             Let me start by congratulating St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH) and Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS) for your 110 and 56 years of service to the community respectively.


2.             Tonight is significant as you have had a fairly long hiatus from having a gathering like this due to COVID-19. COVID-19 disrupted the way we interact, our ability to come together, to make friends and support each other. Notwithstanding all that, while we could not have gatherings like this, I thank both SAMH and SACS for continuing your services to all those you helped throughout the COVID-19 years. For that, on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH), I thank you very much.


The Social Roles of SAMH and SACS


3.             Since the establishment of the Diocese of Singapore in 1909, the Anglican Church in Singapore has placed the welfare of the community at the heart of what it does. This set the stage for SAMH and SACS to establish yourselves as the pioneer providers of health and social services in Singapore.


4.             SAMH was formed in 1913 when Dr Charlotte Ferguson-Davie, a medical doctor and wife of the first Anglican Bishop of Singapore, opened a small dispensary at Bencoolen Street. SACS’ origins can be traced back to the 1950s when Mrs Catherine Eng Neo Thomas, trained nurse and wife of the principal of St. Andrew’s School, set up a free clinic in Potong Pasir to serve the needy.


5.             True to your core tenet, “Commitment to serve with love”, your early efforts were focused on the vulnerable, needy and homeless, with the opening of hospitals, free clinics for the needy, shelters for the homeless and psychiatric care services.


6.             You then expanded your reach to the senior population by entering the community care and eldercare landscape. You opened the St. Andrew’s Community Hospital, Singapore’s first community hospital, in 1992. In the early 2000s, you set up senior activity centres.


7.             Beyond eldercare services, SAMH and SACS have also supported individuals with special needs, youths with mental health-related issues, and migrant workers. You have been responsive to the needs of the population across all walks of life.         

8.             Today, SAMH and SACS have grown to become one of the largest social service agencies in Singapore. Despite this, you continue to work relentlessly to expand your operations and outreach, by setting up more nursing homes – today you are the largest nursing home provider in Singapore – and senior care centres. You are transiting to operating Active Ageing Centres (AACs) and cluster operators.


9.             By 2024, you will have seven nursing homes, totalling more than 2,000 beds and 16 senior centres. MOH cannot thank you enough, in this age where our population is ageing and disease burden is rising, and we are very glad to have partnered SAMH and SACS.  


Managing An Ageing Population


10.          The social challenges of Singapore in the coming decades will be very different from the past decades. It will not be characterised by widespread poverty, but by social inequality and the risk of an emerging permanent underclass. While we will continue to be pre-occupied with the education or employment of the young, we will also be especially concerned about the wellbeing of the aged.


11.          By 2026, Singapore will be a “super aged” society, with 21% of our population aged 65 and above. A major national imperative now is to ensure that our seniors are able to age well, with dignity, comfort and most importantly with health. We are achieving this through three major thrusts.


12.          First, we will need to expand our healthcare capacity to meet the growing demand of healthcare. This will include acute bed capacity in hospitals, as well as step-down care for seniors. We are also increasing nursing home capacity, by doubling the number of beds over ten years, to reach 32,000 beds by 2030. However, there is a limit to the number of nursing homes we can build, both in terms of land and manpower. Neither is it desirable to keep building nursing homes for the frail, without sufficient attention to prevent frailty in the first place. This is not easy to do because while there is so much demand and we try to meet it, we must always have the discipline to use a part of our energy and resources for prevention.


13.          Second, we need to do more upstream to encourage Singaporeans to live healthier lives and reduce the need for institutionalisation. Healthier SG is our national strategy to focus on preventive care and healthy living to reduce the prevalence of chronic conditions. If you have received the SMS, please join and set up your first appointment. Currently, we have good momentum, with more than 15% of the eligible population, or over 380,000 residents, have enrolled in Healthier SG.


Age Well SG


14.          Healthier SG targets the general population who are 40 and above or have chronic conditions. We need a dedicated intervention for seniors. Hence, the third and final thrust is to support seniors to lead active lives in our community. This will prevent social isolation. Social isolation is probably the biggest enemy of a senior because it is a major risk factor for health deterioration, including dementia.


15.          This is the objective of Age Well SG, another national programme that will complement Healthier SG. We leverage AACs, which will play a key role. AACs currently serve as the go-to point for seniors and provide a suite of services to support them. We will build on the current network of AACs by expanding it significantly, and resourcing them better so that the AACs can be more effective in reaching out to and engaging seniors.


16.          This will not be an easy task. Many seniors prefer to stay at home, either they fear being infected with COVID-19 or because they have mobility challenges. AACs will have to work with our Silver Generation Ambassadors and other community volunteers to reach out to all seniors in the community, befriend them and build relationship and trust with them. With trust and relationship, we can persuade them. I have done that in my constituency, with the help of many students.  


17.          Once there is friendship and trust, we can engage the seniors, to engage them in activities, physical exercises, and other social progammes. AACs that have some success in doing this have given feedback that communal dining is particularly successful in engaging seniors. For Singaporeans, somehow coming together to eat is always a good platform for people to stay engaged. The seniors do not just turn up for a free meal, but will shop for groceries, prepare the ingredients, cook and serve food to each other. They will ask their friends to join.  


18.          Another attractive activity is exercise. Stretch band workouts and gym training are also popular amongst seniors. Seniors also appreciate and value volunteering opportunities, which will empower them to continue to contribute to the community.


19.          I hope that SAMH and SACS will strongly support Age Well SG. With your experience and passion, you will be able to develop new programmes and approaches to reach out and engage seniors, which other AACs can learn from. MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) are committed to support you.




20.          In closing, SAMH and SACS have made a significant impact on your beneficiaries and the community. Collectively, you have served society for more than one and a half centuries. However, there is still a lot of pressing work ahead of us.


I thank SAMH and SACS Services’ board and staff members, donors, volunteers and care partners for your hard work and dedication over the years. I look forward to your continued collaboration with MOH, AIC, and many other ministries. Together, we can build an inclusive and resilient community and support our seniors in their ageing journey. I wish everybody a good evening. Thank you.

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