Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)
Mr Noel Cheah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, AIC
Distinguished guests, award recipients
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning. I am glad to be here at the Community Care Manpower Development Award (CCMDA) ceremony.
2. Today, we present 121 CCMDA awards to community care staff who are pursuing further studies. Since the Award was launched in 2017, we have presented close to 700 awards to upskill the sector.
Recognising contributions of community care staff amidst COVID-19
3. It is heartening to see so many of you choosing to upgrade yourselves, especially after a difficult two years battling COVID-19. Community care staff have shown great resilience amidst the challenges of the past two years. In spite of the many challenges, you have kept the patients under your care safe. When visits to nursing homes and hospices were limited to minimise risk, you took on additional workload to care for their emotional needs. We know how difficult this was, for those who were not able to meet their family members. I am sure that added stress and burden to all of you as caregivers. Thank you for caring for them.
The importance of upskilling
4. As we move beyond COVID-19, we must plan ahead to meet the changing needs and challenges of the community. It is encouraging to see many CCMDA recipients pursue studies in areas such palliative care and gerontology. All these are relevant in our efforts in the Healthier SG strategy. With an ageing population, these areas will become more important and the sector must be equipped with the right skills to meet these changes. To our award recipients, each of you have shown that you have the potential and tenacity to master new skills and undertake high value roles. As you progress in your career in the community care sector, we want you to perform at the top of your profession, take on supervisory roles, challenge the status quo, change the way things are done, and uplift the sector.
5. The spirit of lifelong learning is clearly seen in mid-career entrants to the community care family. For those of you who have joined the sector midway through your working journey, you bring fresh perspectives and experiences from other sectors. One such colleague is Madam Jenny Ang. Madam Jenny left a career in the travel industry to join St Luke’s ElderCare as a Centre Manager. With the support of her employer and CCMDA, she is studying for a Masters in Gerontology. At this stage of her life, she has the benefit of experience as a caregiver, and this helps her to empathise with her clients and their families. Others have also joined the community care sector from other industries and found that the work in the sector truly resonates with them. The community care sector is always open to any person who has the heart for it, no matter which stage of your work life you are at. The career conversion programmes and CCMDA are available to help individuals and employers bridge the skills gap. I look forward to seeing more mid-career entrants in our ranks next year.
Role of employers
6. To our employers here today – you have shown great commitment to staff development by supporting their studies. Although this will take time away from work, it is an investment with high returns. Hopefully, in the meantime, robots and Artificial Intelligence technology can help you with the workload. I encourage you to continue to help your staff to realise their potential, and to support them to explore innovative approaches to care. This will amplify their impact where both the staff and the organization can grow together. Staff development is also one of the key pillars for staff retention. We are looking at manpower development in a holistic approach. We want staff to feel that they are striving and growing in their careers. As staff upskill and step up to new challenges, they gain a renewed sense of meaning to their work and greater job satisfaction.
7. The sector can also ramp up attraction and recruitment efforts by offering CCMDA sponsorships to students as a way to attract fresh entrants to the sector, and further build up your bench strength. Increasingly, there are students who have a passion for the community care sector and are interested to join the sector as fresh entrants. We hope to see more community care organisations partner AIC and Institutes of Higher Learning to participate in career fairs, learning journeys, and talks to reach out to these students. I am heartened to see that close to 100 fresh entrants have joined the community care sector through CCMDA since its launch.
8. One such example is Mr Francis Ang, a physiotherapy student at the Singapore Institute of Technology. What started as a short stint in a nursing home during his free time in the holidays, led to a two-year volunteering journey where he discovered his passion for working with seniors. He found it very fulfilling to see residents improve functionally and enjoy improved quality of life. He knew he wanted to work in the community care sector and was inspired to study physiotherapy. He applied to NTUC Health, and was awarded the CCMDA to sponsor his studies. Francis will start work at NTUC Health upon his graduation.
9. To our award recipients, I hope your work will have a lasting impact on your organisation and clients. As we continue on this journey to improve the lives of our seniors, helping them to live and age well, I am confident that they are in your good hands, cared for by capable and passionate individuals. Once again, congratulations to all our CCMDA award recipients.
10. Thank you.