With an ageing population, Singapore’s healthcare system will meet new challenges. The number of people aged 65 and older is expected to double from 430,000 today to more than 900,000 in 2030. Co-ops providing services for the elderly are continuing to emerge across different sectors, including healthcare and wellbeing.
One of these is NTUC Health, which has developed an integrated care model for seniors. In February the co-op opened a new senior care centre, which includes a medical clinic, a dental clinic and a pharmacy. NTUC provides various services and facilitates transfer of seniors between day care to nursing homes or home care. The approach enables doctors, dentists, pharmacists, therapists, nurses and carers to work together to serve seniors better.
NTUC Chair Lim Boon Heng explained: “There is great synergy to be derived as the team works together to provide prompt and person-centred care for our seniors. As NTUC Health continues to expand and extend its range of senior wellness and care options, it will work towards an integrated care model that connects seniors seamlessly across services that are appropriate to their needs.”
One of the seniors benefiting from the approach is 63-year old Toh Kwee Heng, who suffered a stroke in December 2015. He was left partially paralysed and spent three months in hospital. The family then decided to enrol Mr Toh in the NTUC Health Nursing Home at Jurong West. With the support of therapists, he was able to walk again without assistance and was discharged. He intends to continue the therapy to regain muscle strength and has signed up for rehabilitation services at the Silver Circle senior care centre at Jurong West. The recovery was facilitated by the good communication between therapists at the nursing home and the senior care centre.
Another project run by NTUC Health is an intergenerational programme between pre-schoolers and seniors, enabling them to participate in common activities and learn about one another. The pilot project aims to promote greater bonding between young children and seniors.
For this project NTUC Health has partnered with NTUC First Campus, a co-op childcare provider. Both enterprises form part of the NTUC group of co-ops and are located a stone’ throw away from each other.
The initial findings suggest the initiative helps improve the seniors’ emotional health while giving children the chance to interact with seniors. Mr Chua Song Khim, chief executive of NTUC Health said participating in these activities helped seniors strengthen their cognition and physical functions.