Tan Tock Seng Hospital marks 175th anniversary by stepping up efforts to provide community eldercare

President Halimah Yacob speaking at Tan Tock Seng Hospitals' 175th anniversary celebration on July 27, 2019.
President Halimah Yacob speaking at Tan Tock Seng Hospitals' 175th anniversary celebration on July 27, 2019.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) celebrated its 175th anniversary on Saturday (July 27) by announcing a range of initiatives aimed at helping seniors stay out of hospital and get help closer to home.

These include training healthcare staff at community hospitals and volunteers to provide better localised care for seniors in their neighbourhoods, and beefing up TTSH's community health teams.

Speaking at TTSH's Founder's Day dinner at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, President Halimah Yacob commended its efforts to bring care closer to the 1.4 million residents in Singapore's central region.

"This is especially pertinent for Singapore as we face an ageing population. It is important for the health teams to be anchored in the community to help Singaporeans manage their chronic conditions well and keep them safe at their homes," said Madam Halimah.

One initiative TTSH started in November last year was a pilot with the Tsao Foundation's Community for Successful Ageing (Comsa) to share information on Comsa patients who are admitted into TTSH.

These updates allow teams from both parties to identify patients who might need early intervention and support, and also to provide targeted care after they are discharged.

About 160 patients have benefited from the initiative so far.

TTSH will also train healthcare staff at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for more complex procedures such as tracheostomies that will be required at a new Chronic Sick Unit expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of next year.

A tracheostomy is an incision made in the windpipe to relieve an obstruction to breathing. A tube is sometimes inserted to help a patient to breathe.

Kwong Wai Shiu residents will then be able to receive appropriate care without having to be sent to an acute hospital for non-emergencies.

"The future hospital is neither one that waits for patients to fall ill and come to its doors, nor one that discharges patients and leaves them without support in the community," said TTSH chief executive officer Dr Eugene Soh.

"Healthcare must evolve from a facility-centric to person-centric model."

TTSH is currently working with about 70 partners in the central area of Singapore, with each of the seven neighbourhoods under TTSH's jurisdiction served by a community health team comprising doctors, nurses, health coaches and operations staff.

Its first community pharmacist is set to begin scheduling sessions in Hougang, benefiting residents who require close monitoring of their medications.

The hospital's Centre for Health Activation has also launched a programme called Charge Up! with community partners to train volunteer carers in para-clinical skills such as medicine management and gait assessment. Charge Up! has trained 80 volunteers so far.

The community health teams also operate 80 health posts located within partners' premises for better access and communication, where they run various programmes to educate and improve the fitness of elderly patients.

TTSH was founded in 1844 by philanthropist Tan Tock Seng, when it was first known as the Chinese Pauper's Hospital and was located at Pearl's Hill. The hospital moved to its fourth and current location at Novena in 2000.