$12m award set up to train community care workers

Mr Joseph Chua, 27, and Dr Lee Yi Yong, 34, were among the recipients yesterday. Some got the new award, while others received AIC's previous community care scholarships.
Mr Joseph Chua, 27, and Dr Lee Yi Yong, 34, were among the recipients yesterday. Some got the new award, while others received AIC's previous community care scholarships.PHOTO: AGENCY FOR INTEGRATED CARE

Scheme will open more healthcare disciplines to new entrants to sector

There will be more opportunities for those pursuing a career in community healthcare to be better equipped for the job.

The Ministry of Health is investing close to $12 million over the next four years to improve the capabilities of this workforce - through the Community Care Manpower Development Award.

This new award is a consolidation and expansion of the Agency for Integrated Care's (AIC) scholarships and awards. The agency oversees community care here, which includes nursing homes, senior care centres and day rehabilitation facilities.

Under the new award, more healthcare disciplines, like social work and speech therapy, instead of just traditional ones like nursing and physiotherapy, will be open to new entrants to the sector.

For current staff, the award will be available to those pursuing entry-level qualifications, instead of just to those enrolled in degree and postgraduate programmes previously.

Furthermore, the award has been extended to cover all community care organisations, including private ones.

The award is open only to Singaporeans and permanent residents, although it also includes a visiting expert scheme, which funds the invitation of a local or overseas expert to share his knowledge with community care organisations.

The $12 million boost to the sector was announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor yesterday at a ceremony to present the award to the pioneer batch of 33 recipients.

More than 70 other recipients of AIC's previous community care scholarships also received their awards at the event, which was held at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital auditorium.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had mentioned in Parliament during the Committee of Supply budget debate earlier this year that the Government will be ramping up efforts to shift its focus beyond hospital care to community care.

This is to offer holistic care services to support Singapore's rapidly ageing population. By 2030, the number of people aged 65 and older will double to 900,000.

Said Dr Khor: "Building future skills at all levels of the community care workforce is critical to addressing the changing needs of an ageing population."

Dr Lee Yi Yong, 34, medical director at senior care centre, The Lentor Residence, and a general practitioner, was one of the awardees yesterday.

She will pursue a Graduate Diploma in Palliative Medicine at the National University of Singapore. She said she would gain specialised knowledge to help her tackle more "complex situations".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline '$12m award set up to train community care workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe