Meaningful activities for seniors in nursing homes

We share Mr Ng Qi Siang's views on the need for meaningful activities for our seniors ("Improve eldercare facilities to promote dignified ageing"; Tuesday).

Our nursing homes engage their seniors in a variety of meaningful activities, in line with the Ministry of Health's Enhanced Nursing Home Standards.

Nursing homes have to provide safe care, as well as preserve the dignity of residents and address their psychosocial well-being.

The Agency for Integrated Care's (AIC) Wellness Programme aims to improve the well-being and quality of life of seniors by increasing the range of social programmes in the community care sector.

Close to 200 staff from more than 40 organisations, including nursing homes, have been trained to facilitate visual arts, creative movement and taiji activities.

These activities help to improve strength and mobility, and promote a sense of achievement through learning something new.

AIC will also partner the National Arts Council to bring more arts-based activities to the sector.

Nursing homes have also engaged volunteers in organising activities for residents, such as excursions.

Corporate sponsors also donate their time and resources to enhance the activities in nursing homes, such as a movie screening at Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens.

We welcome more of such generous contributions.

We are also working with nursing homes to encourage greater independence and autonomy for our seniors.

For instance, we are piloting "cluster living" design in Ren Ci's upcoming facility in Ang Mo Kio, where residents share a common living and activity space within a smaller cluster of beds to promote independence and interaction, yet not disrupting the monitoring and care of patients.

We agree with Mr Ng that there should be lifelong learning opportunities for our seniors.

As part of the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, we recently launched the National Silver Academy (NSA), which will provide more than 10,000 learning places in more than 500 courses for seniors aged 50 years and above.

The NSA aims to enable seniors to pursue learning in diverse areas for interest and to stay active.

Seniors will receive subsidies for short courses offered by post-secondary education institutions (PSEIs) and community-based organisations.

In addition, SkillsFuture Credit can be used on top of existing government course subsidies to pay for approved skills-related courses.

Seniors may also apply for exam-free modules offered by PSEIs for a token fee. Seniors can find out more about the courses on the NSA website (www.nsa.org.sg).

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Meaningful activities for seniors in nursing homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe