Preparing mid-career PMETs for community care sector

(From left) Mr Lester Ting, Ms Yvonne Chan, Mr Soon Cheok Seng, Ms Doris Tan and Mr Darren Thng are in the Agency for Integrated Care's Senior Management Associate Scheme. Participants undergo a training programme as well as attachment programmes wit
(From left) Mr Lester Ting, Ms Yvonne Chan, Mr Soon Cheok Seng, Ms Doris Tan and Mr Darren Thng are in the Agency for Integrated Care's Senior Management Associate Scheme. Participants undergo a training programme as well as attachment programmes with community care groups.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Integrated care agency hopes to draw more via training scheme

Given his previous work experience, one might not expect Mr Darren Thng to end up working for a community hospital.

The 46-year-old, now a manager in the chief executive's office at Bright Vision Hospital, had been managing a German subsidiary in China that built musical fountains.

But he now puts his experience to good use in a different setting.

"I used to oversee the operations of the whole company, but now I assist the CEO and director in running the hospital," said Mr Thng, who came back to Singapore a year ago. "The managerial skills are almost the same, but the services we provide are different."

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), which coordinates healthcare services for seniors here, helps mid-career professionals like Mr Thng with the transition to new jobs in the community care sector.

Through its Senior Management Associate Scheme started this year, the agency hopes to attract professionals, managers, executives and techniciansto join the sector.

Participants attend a training programme that provides an overview of the sector, as well as short-term attachment programmes with community care groups. For instance, they join volunteers in delivering meals to seniors who live alone and accompany patients on hospital visits.

The AIC then follows up on their progress. Seven people who joined the sector - including Mr Thng - have gone through the training.

Ms Teo Sio Hoon, chief of intermediate- and long-term care at the AIC's manpower development and resourcing division, said professionals with managerial and operational experience are in demand, given the growing community care sector, which includes community hospitals and senior care centres.

"The programme is meant to prepare and assimilate them into their new jobs," she said. "Coming from a corporate background, you may realise that you have all the work skills, but the setting in this sector is very different.

"In a corporation, the bottom line is the key thing, but in community care, while we are conscious of cost, the welfare of patients is more important in making decisions."

Last week, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said more healthcare workers will be needed with the expansion of primary and community care. To build a stronger local core in the healthcare sector, training and recruitment will be expanded to enable young job seekers and mid-career entrants, among others, to get work in healthcare.

Mr Soon Cheok Seng, 58, who previously worked as a senior business analyst for Motorola, said the training helped him to understand the nature and expectations of his current job.

Mr Soon, now IT manager at Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens, said: "The focus is different. If you want to work in this sector, you have to realise it's more about giving back to society. Pay becomes secondary."

Bright Vision Hospital CEO Chua Puay Hian said Mr Thng and Ms Doris Tan, 55, who both underwent the training and now work at the hospital, are doing well. "We are happy that both have had extensive work experiences across Singapore and Asia and are putting their work and life skills to good use here," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'Preparing mid-career PMETs for community care sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe