Advisors to grassroots organisations,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good morning. I am very happy to be here with you this morning to celebrate the official re-opening of Whampoa Community Club (CC). The new Whampoa CC is now almost double the size of the old one. It now has new and better facilities such as a fully air-conditioned multi-purpose hall, as well as new services, such as a post office, childcare centre and family service centre. With its wider range of facilities and programmes, the CC will better meet the diverse needs and interests of Whampoa residents. and serve as a hub within Whampoa for community activities and bonding.

Transforming Whampoa into a Community for Successful Ageing

2. The new Whampoa CC will also be a "Community Centre for All Ages", as it is planned with services to support an ageing population in this area.

3. Indeed, in the next decade, the population in Singapore will age rapidly. The demand for healthcare and aged care will increase in tandem. On the other hand, we will have a much more constrained healthcare workforce, coupled with shrinking family sizes.

4. To meet this challenge, we need to go beyond healthcare to health, and keep our population as healthy as possible, for longer, and to develop care services beyond hospitals to home and community. We need to build communities of care to support our seniors to age in place, backed by a robust community-based primary care and aged care system.

5. Whampoa is a concrete example of how we are transforming care together with the community, to help Whampoa residents age well in place. Our partnership with Whampoa goes back a long way. Whampoa was one of four original pilot sites when the City for All Ages (CFAA) programme was launched in 2012. Under CFAA, MOH worked together with grassroots and community partners in Whampoa to identify the needs of seniors and develop solutions to meet these needs. Volunteers and residents on wheelchair conducted town audits to ensure pedestrian walkways were safe and accessible for the elderly. This exercise led to infrastructure improvements across Whampoa and allowed seniors to move around more conveniently and independently.

6. As an extension of the CFAA programme, Tsao Foundation has been working with MOH and Whampoa grassroots organisations since 2014 to enable Whampoa seniors to age successfully. Partnering Tsao Foundation, grassroots organisations had carried out door-to-door surveys to understand how we can better support Whampoa seniors. Based on these needs surveys, TsaoFoundation then matched seniors to the services they needed so that they could continue to age in the community.

A Hub for Successful Ageing

7. This redeveloped Whampoa CC marks yet another milestone in our partnership to make Whampoa a community for all ages. Whampoa CC will host a "Community for Successful Ageing" centre, or ComSA for short, which offers primary care, geriatric services, case management as well as preventive care and wellness programmes in order to support Whampoa residents as they age.

8. This idea came about from a resident writing in to Advisor Heng and his team when the redevelopment of Whampoa CC was first being planned in 2014. The resident asked why there was no eldercare facility being planned in the CC when Whampoa is an ageing estate.

9. In response to the suggestion, MOH worked with Whampoa grassroots organisations, NHG and Tsao Foundation to locate this centre here in the CC. The centre will support seniors in three ways.

10. First, the centre will promote active ageing programmes to enable seniors here to achieve healthy longevity. Tsao Foundation will offer a suite of learning courses and coaching programmes and help seniors to keep themselves healthy.

11. Second, the centre will catalyse the development of a "community of care" in Whampoa. It will introduce social activities, promote senior volunteerism and foster mutual support amongst seniors here. ComSA will also seek to link with community-based providers in the area so that they can link up care for seniors in need of support in this community.

12. Third, Tsao Foundation will also partner NHG to promote holistic primary and aged care for the Whampoa seniors. NHG will work with Tsao Foundation to jointly care for frail elderly patients. With this partnership, more Whampoa residents can transit better from hospitals back home, and be supported to recuperate and stay well in the community. Seniors can visit the primary care clinic for their healthcare needs whilst receiving referrals from case managers for psychosocial support or other services around Whampoa. Those who are frailer can also come to the day care centre or have care staff from the centre visit their homes to care for them.

13. One beneficiary is 65-year old Whampoa resident Mdm June Lee. Two years ago, Mdm Lee was referred to Tsao Foundation after suffering a fractured hip and hot water burns. It was challenging for Mdm Lee's husband to care for her while continuing to work at the same time. Hence, in addition to providing her with medical care, Tsao Foundation linked Mdm Lee to other community-based services to improve the safety of her home environment, and also arranged for her to attend a day care centre. Mdm Lee is now cared for by the ComSAcentre at Whampoa CC.

14. Besides physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises to improve her mobility, Mdm Lee's day is now also filled with the singing, drawing, art and crafts activities at the centre. Instead of staying at home on her own, she now spends her days socialising with friends and participating in meaningful activities at the centre. Through this centre, we hope that more seniors like Mdm Lee can have their care needs identified early, and receive care services seamlessly and effectively.

15. The ComSAcentre is thus a concrete example of the development of community care infrastructure to support our care transformation efforts - to go beyond healthcare to health, and to extend care beyond hospitals to home.

Conclusion

16. Preparing for an ageing population requires a collective effort - from the government, from the community and from individuals working together. I am optimistic that if we work together as One Community, we can support our ageing population to age healthily and happily and enjoy their longevity to the fullest.

17. On this note, I would like to congratulate Advisor HengChee How and his team at Whampoa on the re-opening of the CC. I would also like to thank them for their vision and leadership in bringing this new CC, including the ComSAcentre, into fruition. We look forward to continue our partnership with grassroots organisations, Tsao Foundation and NHG as we build a supportive environment for seniors in Whampoa to age in place. Thank you.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore