Mr T.K. Udairam, President of Home Nursing Foundation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I am honoured to join you for the official opening of the Home Nursing Foundation Wellness@Buangkok Active Ageing Hub. I would like to congratulate the Home Nursing Foundation on 45 years of stellar community care services in Singapore.
2. Singapore is an ageing society. By 2030, 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. Challenges include shrinking family sizes, which means that families will need more support to provide care to seniors. At the same time, increased longevity has impacted economic growth and opportunities for personal fulfilment. We all want our seniors to age well in the community, and continue to contribute meaningfully to society.
3. Let me highlight some of the eldercare sector’s notable achievements in the past decade to support seniors in ageing well. Since 2015, we have made good progress on the Action Plan for Successful Ageing on many fronts. We reached out to over 92,000 seniors through health talks and exercise programmes, and helped over 60,000 seniors to benefit from senior learning opportunities. We have transformed 14 heartlands into Dementia-Friendly Communities with one more in the works, as part of efforts to create a caring and inclusive society.
4. At the national level, we have continually refreshed our public and care infrastructure to enable Singaporeans to age gracefully and confidently. For instance, we have increased home and day care places by 70% since 2015 to support seniors to age in place. We have also set up Active Ageing Hubs to serve both the social and care needs of seniors, and Wellness@Buangkok is one of them.
5. Our plans must continue to evolve to meet the needs and aspirations of current and future seniors. Hence, we are in the midst of refreshing the Action Plan, and look forward to partnering with citizens, corporates and community partners to co-create initiatives and unlock the potential of an ageing population.
Key Shifts Moving Forward
6. Moving forward, MOH will continue our care transformation journey. In particular, we will adopt a population health approach by journeying with our citizens throughout their lifestages and going upstream to encourage healthy living and tackle risk factors early. For those with care needs, we want to provide more integrated service delivery across providers and settings. We also want to deliver more person-centred care across different life stages, and across social and health sectors.
7. First, we will continue to ramp up our preventive health efforts for our seniors, to delay the onset of frailty. We also aim to provide access to more day and home care places to enable them to age well in place, while reducing the strain on our caregivers, as well as reduce hospitalisation and premature institutionalisation.
8. One key initiative we have embarked on to support our preventive health efforts, is the rollout of Active Ageing Hubs (AAHs). Beyond care services such as day care and rehab, AAHs serve as centres for seniors to socialise, gain skills and knowledge, exercise and develop their hobbies. HNF’s Wellness@Buangkok is one such AAH, which works closely with partners such as Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to implement active ageing activities and provide health screening programmes. These efforts encourage healthy living for seniors and support early detection and intervention efforts.
9. I am heartened to hear how seniors are cared for and many of them have been enjoying the activities at the centre in the short time since it opened its doors. HNF shared with me the story of Mdm Ng who benefitted greatly from the centre. Mdm Ng started attending the centre’s day care and day rehabilitation services after being discharged for a fall. She gradually regained her motor skills and physical strength through the rehabilitation programme. Today, she continues being meaningfully engaged in the centre’s activities, and even co-facilitated activities with HNF’s staff to help other seniors with cognitive impairment. I hope that HNF continues their good efforts, in reaching out to and supporting more seniors like Mdm Ng and encouraging seniors to contribute back to the community.
10. Second, we need to better integrate services for our seniors, so that they can conveniently access a range of services. MOH’s key initiative in this area includes the progressive roll out of the Eldercare Centre service model starting this year. Centres coming on board this model will be key nodes in our social support and care landscape, by the provision of a suite of “ABC” services to seniors living in the vicinity. The “ABC” services include A for Active ageing programmes, B for Befriending, and C for Care services, referrals and information. Even as we are rolling out the “ABC” suite of services from 1 May 2021, we have provided support to providers such as HNF with the Transition Grant, to allow them to prepare themselves to deliver the Eldercare Centre service model. Besides conducting active ageing programmes and providing emergency response services, these centres receiving the Transition Grant will now conduct weekly home visits to seniors who are frail or homebound.
11. HNF’s new centre will also support our care integration efforts. With an expanded range of services from home care to day care services, seniors can remain under HNF’s care and be transited to appropriate services seamlessly, even as their needs change over time. Take for example Mr Lim, an 89-year-old senior with dementia. He was first referred to HNF’s Home Therapy, where he received active rehabilitation services to improve his motor skills and train his sitting tolerance. After his condition improved, he was transited to HNF’s dementia day care, and has been receiving maintenance exercise to continue improving his physical strength.
12. It takes a whole-of-community effort to transform and build Singapore into a caring and senior-friendly city. Hence, I would like to thank HNF as well as the donors, community partners, caregivers, and volunteers who are here with us today, for supporting and partnering us in caring for our seniors.
13. In closing, let me congratulate Home Nursing Foundation again, for the successful opening of Wellness@ Buangkok. Thank you for your commitment and stellar service in the past 45 years, and may you continue to provide quality and integrated care to our seniors for many years to come!