New manpower initiatives to support growing ageing community

Dr Amy Khor interacting with resident from Sree Narayana Mission Home during the arts painting at the AIC’s Community Care Forum.

In light of a rapidly ageing Singapore population which will increase to three-fold over the next two decades resulting in the need for more manpower to support the increased healthcare and social care services, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) is pulling out all stops to achieve this.

To attract, develop and retain local community support care workers, it is piloting four new manpower development initiatives from June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016. This was announced during the Community Care Forum 2015 held by AIC.

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor, shared in the opening speech at the Forum, “The community care sector is a sunrise sector that offers many good job opportunities for Singaporeans who wish to pursue a meaningful career, be it as senior care associates looking after the elderly in the centres, therapy aides working with seniors on their rehabilitation, or healthcare assistants who care for the daily needs of residents in a nursing home.”

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Quality of life is more important than extension of life

Patrick Cheung, right, shares his perspectives during the Modern Aging launch.

At the Modern Aging launch, I heard Patrick Cheung, founder and honorary executive director of The Jade Club, a social enterprise based in Hong Kong that is tackling elderly care challenges in Greater China, touch on the importance of quality of life.

He shared this with me in an e-mail after the event: “Quality of life is more important than extension of life. Most governments use majority of their budget in saving life at hospitals rather than improving quality of life at old age. Hong Kong specifically needs to focus on this area and look at ageing-in-place. Being able to die at home surrounded with your loved one is much better than dying in the hospital.

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Beating the “memory thief”

I read an interesting article in the recent issue of “Fortune” magazine, Issue 5.1.15 on the race to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. They shared about an experimental drug by Biogen called aducanumab, which is still being clinically-trialled, and has created much positive buzz. With the numbers of people likely to get Alzheimer’s increasing in many countries and with no cure, and the high cost of caring for these patients, this news is promising. The article mentioned that the trial of the drug showed that amyloid plaques (associated with Alzheimer’s) were “greatly reduced”.

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Encouraging entrepreneurs into the silver space

The MOU signing between NUS Enterprise and ACCESS Health International.

NUS Enterprise and non-profit think-tank ACCESS Health International have launched a new programme called Modern Aging at InnovFest unBound 2015. Starting in August, this four-month programme brings together students, researchers and health professionals from across disciplines to create businesses targeting the ageing population in the areas of ageing and healthcare.

This is further in line with Singapore’s agenda to be a Smart Nation and is being supported by the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and ESSEC Asia Pacific, who are the programme’s academic partners.

“Modern Aging can contribute to the growth of new business in Singapore and help the country meet the needs of an ageing population worldwide. Businesses that are successful in Singapore may serve the needs of the elderly globally,” said William Haseltine, chairman and president, ACCESS Health International.

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Insights to the ageing population

Today, I attended the “Rethinking Health and Wellness Sharing Session”, a follow-up to the two earlier workshops organised by the DesignSingapore Council, and the design consultancies shared some takeway points. Here are some of the slides from Orcadesign and SupraCopula on “Empathetic Ageing with Technology”:

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