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Deeper discussions on active ageing next month: Health Minister Gan

Mr Gan Kim Yong said the Ministerial Committee on Ageing will sieve through the ideas brought up in the earlier 13 focus groups, and selected ideas will be explored further from next month.

SINGAPORE: Come August, a series of focus group sessions will be launched to explore selected ideas that were brought up in earlier discussions with senior citizens on successful ageing processes.

This new series of focus group sessions - announced by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (July 25) at the official opening of Tan Tock Seng Hospital's (TTSH) Centre for Geriatric Medicine - will build on the earlier discussions that were organised by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing as part of its formulation of the Action Plan for Successful Ageing.

Since June, 189 participants, mostly seniors, have been consulted in a total of 13 focus group discussions.

ENHANCING ELDERLY CARE

As part of providing more assistance to Singapore's senior citizen population, TTSH's Centre for Geriatric Centre designed its facilities and clinical processes to offer integrated and holistic care for the elderly. For instance, the 1,200-square-metre centre has a waiting area modelled after a typical residential home’s living room with the aim of creating a warm and inviting ambience.

Having a geriatric-friendly design was key as 95 per cent of the patients are above 65 years old, and about a quarter suffer from dementia. The centre boasts a sensory garden designed especially for dementia patients - it has artificial birds that chirp when someone claps their hands, and this helps stimulate patients' sense of hearing.

The centre also has a mock-up geriatric-friendly home which includes many educational and safety tips on how to live independently. An Occupational Therapist may also use the space to do demonstrations and assess the seniors' abilities to be independent at home.

The centre, which started serving patients earlier in March this year, also touts a streamlined clinic workflow in which doctors and nurses belonging to the same team of caregivers are clustered together to avoid the need to shuffle the patient or caregiver around.

Its gymnasium and pharmacy are also co-located within the clinic so that patients are able to have same-day clinic consultation and rehabilitation sessions. A larger sick bay for bedside consultation also removes the need to wheel trolley-bound patients into consultation rooms.

Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih, Director of TTSH’s Institute of Geriatrics and Active Ageing said: "This clinic is a reflection of the increased complexity of our patients' needs. What we are trying to create here is a joint care in a single location so that we minimise the time wasted travelling from one part of the hospital to another."

"Going forward, transforming the delivery of healthcare and aged care will be just as important, if not more important, than increasing capacity and enhancing affordability of care," said Mr Gan. "We must make healthcare work for our seniors. We must deliver the care needs of seniors, who often do not have just one medical condition, but multiple conditions. We must ensure that care is integrated, person-centric and appropriate for the patients."

To boost the quality of life for the elderly and their family, TTSH will partner Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to develop new digital innovations to that will enhance the delivery of care for the elderly. This means patients can look forward to solutions such as those that aim to reduce the risk of developing dementia or Parkinson’s disease, it said.

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