More hospital nurses to be attached to nursing homes

Nurse Myint Myint (left) and physiotherapy associate Tan Lip Yiap (right) attending to a patient at the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home yesterday. The nursing home will receive its first batch of around five staff nurses and physio- therapists in end-
Nurse Myint Myint (left) and physiotherapy associate Tan Lip Yiap (right) attending to a patient at the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home yesterday. The nursing home will receive its first batch of around five staff nurses and physio- therapists in end-November.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

They will be deployed for 2-year stints to help boost nursing standards in the homes

Mr Nicholas Chung has been attached to Bethany Methodist Nursing Home for less than half a year, but has already come up with an idea to improve things.

Instead of the usual practice of putting pills in trays, the senior staff nurse at National University Hospital thought of sorting pills into individual small drawers marked with a patient's photo and details.

"It will allow us to better verify the identity of the patient taking the medicine and eliminate medication error," said Mr Chung, 48, who has been at the nursing home in Choa Chu Kang since April, during the pilot of the Regional Health System Manpower Partnership.

Under the programme, which was launched on Tuesday, staff nurses and allied health professionals from hospitals will be deployed to nursing homes for stints of about two years, starting end-November.

The collaboration between the National University Health System (NUHS) and Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) aims to refine care processes and models, to ease the manpower crunch in the healthcare sector.

Demand for institutional care will go up as the number of Singaporeans aged above 65 will double to about 962,000 in the next 20 years.

Bethany Methodist Nursing Home, which is run by MWS, will receive its first batch of about five staff nurses and physiotherapists in end-November.

The programme will be rolled out progressively to other nursing homes in the western part of Singapore, including MWS' second nursing home, which is set to open in Yew Tee in August next year.

As the NUHS healthcare workers gain a better understanding of the needs of long-term care patients, they can strengthen the core capabilities of nursing homes in dementia care, advance care planning and infection control, said NUHS chief executive John Eu-Li Wong.

He said: "Nursing homes are a critical component of our integrative healthcare system... These are all areas where we have knowledge and skills that we can share."

He said the initiative will help nursing homes better meet the Enhanced Nursing Home Standards developed by the Ministry of Health, which took effect last year.

MWS group executive director Jenny Bong said: "One of the challenges for us is finding staff who are skilled enough to train all our staff in the nursing homes to carry out the standards, such as in pain management." She said one advantage of the initiative, as seen from the pilot that started last October, was the professional supervision provided to junior staff at the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home.

The programme will be evaluated at the end of two years to determine its feasibility and scalability.

Mr Chung, who is serving as an acting nurse manager during his stint, said: "It allows us to share our best practices, raise overall standards and encourage more nurses to be open to working in nursing homes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'More hospital nurses to be attached to nursing homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe