More training places for community care staff

With two additional learning institutes, the sector can train 11,000 a year for next 4 years

In a bid to help the community care workforce stay relevant amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of training places offered will increase by 20 per cent to provide greater access to opportunities in the sector.

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will appoint two additional learning institutes - Alzheimer's Disease Association and Tan Tock Seng Hospital - to the AIC Learning Network from next January, said Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon.

With the addition, the network will have eight learning institutes providing about 11,000 training places a year for the next four years.

"In a time of change, the community care workforce needs to be future-ready. Every community care staff will need to be open to continuous learning and skills upgrading so that you remain equipped with relevant skills to care for our seniors," said Dr Koh.

He was speaking yesterday at a virtual awards ceremony where about 100 individuals received the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA).

Recipients of the awards will be able to attend various training programmes free. They will be co-funded by CCMDA and their hiring community care providers.

CCMDA will also make funding available to providers to hire temporary staff to cover the duties of staff pursuing a full-time course.

The scheme covers all levels of skills upgrading, from the National Institute of Technical Education Certificate to master's degrees in a range of clinical and non-clinical areas.

It also covers professional development courses and attachments to local or overseas healthcare and community care facilities.

Recipients will have to fulfil a bond with their hiring community care providers upon graduation.

AIC said the awards "aim to enable these individuals to develop and upgrade themselves professionally, so as to make a deeper impact on seniors to help them live and age gracefully in the community".

Dr Koh cited the example of Mr Dennis Oen, a programme manager at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities. Mr Oen, who was an operations manager at his family business, made a mid-career switch to the community care sector in 2018.

He took a course on providing service excellence in healthcare under the AIC Learning Network that year. Under the CCMDA, he has since gone on to pursue a part-time master's programme in gerontology - a field of study that deals with ageing-related issues - at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Said Dr Koh: "As the community care sector transforms, I encourage you to continue to learn, and muster the courage to step outside your comfort zone so that you can keep pace with a rapidly evolving community care landscape and continue to deliver good care to our seniors."

Since the CCMDA was launched in 2017, more than 380 awards have been given out. The majority of recipients are current staff in the community care sector.

About 15 per cent of recipients are new entrants to the sector and are enrolled in a range of courses such as nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2020, with the headline 'More training places for community care staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe