Singapore

NTUC Health's new nursing home to focus on getting seniors back home

NTUC Health's second nursing home was launched yesterday, but it will not just focus on delivering care within its walls.

The new facility in Chai Chee Street, which can accommodate up to 350 residents, will aim to get the seniors back home early to continue their rehabilitation in the community.

Mr Leon Luai, head of residential care at NTUC Health, said: "There is no better place to age in place than their own homes. Hence we have devoted resources to make sure that the appropriate levels of rehabilitation are given to residents with potential for discharge."

He added that building "a lot more nursing homes" is not the long-term solution.

"It is our wish that every nursing home has the ability to discharge 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the residents. If we can do that, those with higher care needs can then be admitted."

Since 2015, NTUC Health has discharged 21 residents across its nursing homes, with seven from Chai Chee. It hopes to discharge another 20 by the end of next year.

The process involves identifying the patients' conditions and chances of recovery, chatting with the families, knowing what the patients themselves want and providing them with "intensive rehabilitation", among other things.

To help achieve this goal, NTUC Health has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and another with Changi General Hospital (CGH).

With SIT, NTUC Health will work to develop a pool of allied health professionals and allow students to gain hands-on experience at its nursing homes.

The partnership with CGH will, among other things, help train nursing home staff in areas such as geriatric and dementia care.

This approach of discharging patients in a timely manner will also apply at NTUC Health's two other nursing homes.

Combined, the Jurong West, Chai Chee and Geylang East facilities can provide care for close to 1,000 seniors, up from the 600 or so now.

The newest home in Geylang East, while not officially open, began admitting residents in April.

The Chai Chee facility brings the total number of nursing homes in Singapore to 72. The Health Ministry hopes to provide 17,000 beds in the sector by 2020, up from about 12,800 this year.

In his speech, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the launch, said: "We, as a society, cannot outsource care to just healthcare providers... We, as a community, need to own and be a part of it."

Ms Yong Limin, a senior principal physiotherapist at NTUC Health, noted the importance of education in helping nursing home residents.

She said: "The biggest challenge is that they are not aware that the journey of regaining their functions is actually possible. Helping them to change their mindset is key to helping them regain their mobility and confidence."

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