Singapore Budget 2015: Charities to share psychologists, therapists via central hubs

SINGAPORE - To increase efficiency, reduce costs and share resources, the labour-tight helping profession is turning to the bicycle for inspiration.

Like a bicycle wheel which has a central hub and spokes radiating out from it that connect them to remote points, the authorities hope to utilise the "hub-and-spoke" model by having a central pool of specialists who will then be deployed to different charities for short stints.

For this purpose, a new Community Psychology Hub will be set up in disability services agency SG Enable, located along Redhill Road, in the second half of the year.

Its task will be to attract, develop and deploy psychologists to voluntary welfare organisations that need them, said Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Friday.

This operating model is meant to help small charities which may not have the means and economies of scale to hire, train and ensure adequate career pathways for specialists.

MSF will set aside $8 million over the next three years to support this hub.

While such a hub for psychologists is new, there are already two existing hubs run by Thye Hua Kwan and SPD for therapists.

Mr Chan said MSF will expand the work of these two hubs and appoint a third by the end of the year to meet the growing demand for therapy services.

The target is to increase the number of therapists at the hubs to 125 in two year's time, up from about 80 now. MSF has committed $7 million for this expansion over the next three years.

jantai@sph.com.sg