Innovation key for public service: DPM Teo

Ms Toh Hui Tin received the PS21 Distinguished Star Manager Award yesterday for her efforts in getting elderly residents living alone in Bukit Timah to use a home monitoring kit.
Ms Toh Hui Tin received the PS21 Distinguished Star Manager Award yesterday for her efforts in getting elderly residents living alone in Bukit Timah to use a home monitoring kit.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Getting elderly people living alone in Bukit Timah to use an alert system was an uphill task for People's Association deputy constituency director Toh Hui Tin.

"Many seniors thought it was a scam as it was brand new, " said Ms Toh, 37. "It took a lot of visits to gain their trust. We also spoke to their next of kin about how it can give them peace of mind knowing their relative is safe."

The home monitoring kit has motion detectors that will trigger an alert when there is prolonged inactivity by the elderly person, so that caregivers can check if anything untoward has happened.

Since the Bukit Timah eldercare project began 18 months ago in end-2015, about a dozen seniors have installed the subsidised kits.

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Ms Toh's perseverance in driving innovation got her the PS21 Distinguished Star Manager Award yesterday, one of the honours given at the annual Excellence in Public Service Awards.

At the ceremony, 279 awards were given to public officers and agencies for good service and innovation, and to members of the public for being good customers.

Middle managers like Ms Toh are crucial to building a culture of innovation within the public service, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in his address.

PERSUADING SENIORS

Many seniors thought it was a scam as it was brand new. We also spoke to their next of kin about how it can give them peace of mind knowing their relative is safe.

MS TOH HUI TIN, deputy constituency director of the People's Association, on the difficulty of getting elderly people living alone in Bukit Timah to use an alert system.

They can inspire other officers to do their best, he said, as he urged public servants to pick up the pace of innovation.

Singapore is transforming its economy amid global uncertainty, and the public sector needs to adapt too, said Mr Teo, who is the minister in charge of the civil service.

He listed three ways to do so - by focusing on citizens' needs, working with one another in a coordinated way and using more technology.

Mr Teo gave the example of how SingHealth patients can use the Health Buddy app to register their appointments online and get a queue number so that they can show up around the appointed time. This saves them up to 30 minutes of waiting, he said.

The creative solution shows how public servants can understand citizens' needs and design a programme to fulfil them, he added.

Mr Teo also urged agencies to work more closely together.

For example, the public service centre in Our Tampines Hub allows people to complete multiple transactions involving different agencies in one place.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Innovation key for public service: DPM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe