Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Health

Grooming more community care nurses

A resident and caregiver at the Pearl's Hill Care Home located on Pearl's Hill Road on Sept 28, 2016.
A resident and caregiver at the Pearl's Hill Care Home located on Pearl's Hill Road on Sept 28, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

With healthcare shifting away from acute hospitals and into people's homes, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is looking for ways to get nurses to follow suit.

Currently, only 4,900 of Singapore's 34,000 or so practising nurses are in the community care sector. MOH plans to add 900 more by 2020.

"If we want to go beyond healthcare to health, we need nurses to deliver preventive health in the community," said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor during the debate on the ministry's Budget yesterday.

"If we want to go beyond hospitals to the community and home, we need nurses to support patients with good day and home- based care."

Apart from caring for people in their homes, community care nurses also work in polyclinics, community hospitals, nursing homes and senior care centres.

Dr Khor said the ministry will be expanding pilot schemes to deploy nurses across the community, and also work to develop community nursing as a more structured career track.

She said the ministry will introduce a community nursing scholarship later this year for O- and A-level students who are interested in the field.

Current nurses who are interested in specialising in community nursing will also be eligible.

"We are targeting 20 community nursing scholars annually," Dr Khor said. "This exposure to community nursing will also become part of the leadership development of nursing leaders, so that they will gain competencies across both acute and community care."

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Grooming more community care nurses'. Print Edition | Subscribe