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Patient Navigators - The go-to nurses for patients with complex needs

Patient Navigators will help to integrate care services to better look after the needs of Singapore's patients, in particular the rapidly ageing population, says SingHealth.

SINGAPORE: A pioneer batch of 33 nurses have been trained to take on a new full-time role to provide social support for patients with complex conditions or social needs.

Named Patient Navigators, the new role announced by SingHealth on Friday (Aug 1) will see the 33 nurses act as guides to coordinate healthcare services for patients with complex or chronic conditions.

Specifically, Patient Navigators would initiate early bedside training for caregivers, coordinate referrals to community and social agencies if needed, provide patient education and conduct post-discharge follow-up, in order to minimise post-discharge complications. They would also manage and coordinate the transition between different levels of care for patients with complex conditions or social issues.

According to Dr Tracy Carol Ayre, SingHeath Group Director of Nursing, these nurses will help to integrate care services to better care for a rapidly ageing population.

Patients who will come under the care of these Patient Navigators include those with potential care issues, a history of frequent admissions and poor social support. The introduction of the Patient Navigator role is expected to reduce re-admission rates and the average length of stay for patients, said SingHealth.

The Patient Navigator role was launched as part of the SingHeath Nurses' Day 2014 by Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong.

400 PATIENT NAVIGATORS BY 2018

Training for the role includes a four-month training programme that includes theory sessions as well as clinical attachments in hospital and community settings.

SingHealth plans to train a total of 400 Patient Navigators by 2018. Currently, there is one Patient Navigator attached to each ward at the Singapore General Hospital.

In addition to having Patient Navigators in the wards, SingHealth will also be training another batch of Patient Navigators who are equipped to provide comprehensive post-charge care and support through telemonitoring and home visits. These Patient Navigators will care for discharged patients with moderately complex conditions and patients with stabilised chronic conditions.

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