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NTUC Health's first nursing home to open in Jurong West next year - with more to follow

A new nursing home in Jurong West will begin operations in the third quarter of 2015; five more could open within the next three to five years, says NTUC Health.

SINGAPORE: A new nursing home in Jurong West - the first to be opened by NTUC Health - is expected to begin operations in the third quarter of 2015.

The nursing home will be able to accommodate up to 290 residents. It will also include a senior care centre, which can cater for up to 60 seniors.

Construction at the Jurong West Street 93 site is already underway. With the plot slightly bigger than a football field, it is set to become a nine-storey high nursing home to better cater to the needs of an ageing population. 

NTUC Enterprise, the holding entity of NTUC social enterprises, on Wednesday (July 23) announced that NTUC Health had been awarded the tender by the Ministry of Health.

"We are going into nursing homes because that was our original intention when we set up NTUC Eldercare 17 years ago,” said Mr Lim Boon Heng, chairman of NTUC Enterprise.

“The need for nursing homes is evident because of the rapidly ageing population, and so finally we have succeeded in getting a site for our own nursing home. We plan to operate the nursing home the way we think it ought to be done, which essentially means any of us would be happy to go to if the need arises." 

Aiming to provide holistic care for the elderly, the nursing home will be able to draw support from NTUC Health's team of professionals like pharmacists, doctors and dentists as well as its established network of Home Care and Day Care services.

The new nursing home will not only focus on the medical needs of the patients being cared for, but also on their social needs. It is hoped through social activities, that patients will be able to recover faster. NTUC Enterprise said its intent is to move as many people back to the comfort of their homes as soon as possible. 

"The goal in our nursing home is to provide good care for our residents and support their recovery, so as to help them return to their homes and community as far as it is possible," said Mr Chua Song Khim, CEO of NTUC Health. 

AFFORDABLE FEES

The assurance was also given that fees would be kept affordable while also ensuring sustainability.

"Our social enterprises are set up as cooperatives and we are set up not to maximise profits. In fact, as far as possible, we plough back the surpluses to the services we provide,” said Mr Lim.

“But we have to be sustainable, so our cooperative is set up to be sustainable and this is where we differ from charities, which may depend on donation dollars to run the nursing home, so we would be running it as a social enterprise.

“Our intent is to drive efficiency, and productivity, and keep the cost as low as possible for the people that we serve. It will take us some time before we can say that we will benchmark the prices so many per cent lower than any other persons. We will try to keep it as low as we can."

MANPOWER NEEDED

But some challenges are expected on the manpower and training front - NTUC Health said the new home will require about 100 staff.

"As a healthcare sector as a whole, the challenge truly remains in the manpower. So that's an area we are actively working very hard on, and in collaboration with agencies, even with the grassroots, to see how we can recruit people to be able to work in the nursing homes,” said Mr Chua.

Apart from those trained in nursing, allied health professionals like physiotherapists and occupational therapists will also be needed.  

NTUC Health said it is committed to invest in operating an additional five nursing homes in the next three to five years.

"NTUC social enterprises are continuously identifying emerging needs and reinventing themselves in order to address these needs. NTUC Health's foray into the nursing home space will enable us to provide a more comprehensive suite of health and community care services," said Mr Lim.

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