NTUC HEALTH MILESTONES
As a follow-up to the Modernisation Seminar in 1969, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) began forming cooperatives in the 1970s. One of the first NTUC co-operatives to be established was NTUC Denticare, known today as Unity Denticare. NTUC Denticare was set up to provide quality and affordable dental services to workers. Its first dental clinic was opened in Corporation Drive in May 1972.
In the early 1990s, the NTUC recognised the concerns of the public then over rising healthcare costs and saw the need for a co-operative to help moderate prices of healthcare essentials. The Labour Movement set up NTUC Healthcare and opened its very first pharmacy retail outlet in Clementi NTUC FairPrice. Guest-of-honour for the opening was the late President Mr Ong Teng Cheong, then Secretary General of NTUC and Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore.
NTUC Healthcare unveiled a new brand identity, Unity during the official opening of its 18th pharmacy outlet at Eastpoint Shopping Centre. It was officially opened by Mr Lim Boon Heng, then Secretary General of NTUC and Minister without Portfolio.
In 1997, Unity Pharmacy became the first service provider to launch Tele-pharmacy, an initiative approved by the Ministry of Health that enables customers to seek health advice and purchase medication from Unity pharmacists through telecommunication. The initiative made it more convenient for customers to receive important health related advice when needed, and was officially launched at Great World City in October; witnessed by then Deputy Secretary General of NTUC, Mr Lim Swee Say.
NTUC set up NTUC Eldercare Co-operative Limited to provide quality and affordable eldercare services for the middle income families; many of whom were unable to access the government funding to care for their elderly loved ones. Back then, the Labour Movement anticipated the challenges of an aging population, and with declining birth rates, the support working families would need to care for their elderly parents.
NTUC Eldercare set up its first social day care centre at Marsiling on 4 January 1999. The aim of the day care centre was to provide support to working families by giving them peace of mind that their elderly loved ones were being cared for by trained professionals while they were at work. The centre aimed to engage the elderly in social interactive activities, such as regular exercises, interesting games and festive celebrations, while their family members were at work in the day.
NTUC Denticare merged with NTUC Healthcare to serve the community in the area of healthcare.
NTUC Healthcare’s Unity logo was re-designed to portray a modern and upbeat image with a new tagline “Your Friend in Healthcare” to signify the aim of the retail chain of pharmacy outlets in forging good relationships and understanding with customers.
NTUC Healthcare was awarded the Superbrands award that recognises the brand as one of the best and most valued names in Singapore.
We launched the Care@home service as a pilot project with government to provide eldercare services to the frail elderly who are home-bound and require care while their children are away at work.
Two Unity Pharmacy outlets, located in Great World City and Ang Mo Kio, were awarded the Pro-Family Business Mark for their family-friendly service and facilities.
We introduced home nursing service to provide basic clinical care, such as injection and wound cleaning.
We took over the management of Henderson Senior Citizens’ Home, the May Wong Lifestyle Centre and the May Wong Social Centre from the Chinese Women’s Association.
The “Together We Care” caregivers training programme was launched to equip caregivers with better basic knowledge and skills to care for the elderly.
NTUC Healthcare Co-operative Limited was renamed NTUC Unity Healthcare Co-operative Limited. NTUC Denticare was now Unity Denticare and NTUC Healthcare Unity pharmacy outlets were now renamed Unity. A new tagline “Care for Life” was also developed to communicate the co-operative’s intent to meet the healthcare needs of customers at every stage of their lives.
We opened our first SilverACE Senior Activity Centre (SAC) in Redhill. The SACs are drop-in centres for vulnerable seniors with weak family support in designated lower-income neighbourhoods where they can take part in social activities and remain engaged with the community. The SAC doubles up as support centres where the elderly can turn to for help in times of emergency.
We introduced case management services to vulnerable elderly into our portfolio of services. The Cluster Support team conducts regular visits to such elderly and connects them with relevant community partners for social or financial assistance when needed.
Unity launched its range of daily essential vitamins and supplements under its own “Unity” brand name. These house brand products are priced at least 20% cheaper than national brands, making it more affordable so that everyone can be encouraged to take a pro-active approach to health.
Funded by the Ministry of Health, we began the Place and Train pilot programme in June 2013 to re-design the job function of care officers; from one full-time senior care assistant into three distinct job roles which can be taken up by part-time workers. The training curriculum was re-designed into bite-sized modules to allow back-to-work mums, those looking for a career switch, or early retirees to jumpstart into their part-time roles while supporting the manpower needs of the eldercare industry.
Unity Family Medicine Clinic was opened in May 2014 in collaboration with the National Healthcare Group (NHG), to provide one-stop, affordable healthcare for residents in the Serangoon New Town and Braddell Heights housing estates. This clinic will provide continuing care in the community, giving patients more options especially for chronic diseases.
A major milestone was achieved in July 2014 with the integration of NTUC Eldercare and NTUC Unity Healthcare into a single entity – NTUC Health Co-operative Ltd. NTUC Health builds on the expertise and experience of the two co-operatives to do more for working families, particularly against the backdrop of an aging population.
On 14 July 2014, NTUC Health opened its first Senior Care Centre, a one-stop integrated day care facility for the elderly which also offers community nursing, active rehabilitation and dementia management services at Serangoon Central. The Centre is also among the first to roll out the Centre-Based Weekend Respite Care programme to support caregivers who need to take time off from looking after their elderly loved ones during weekends for urgent work commitments, to run errands or simply for a short break.
SilverCOVE, an integrated senior wellness facility located at Marsiling Heights was opened to help seniors age in place healthily and happily. Apart from managing an Alert Alarm System for studio apartment residents, SilverCOVE offers a communal space and provides social and recreational services, healthcare management, senior-friendly fitness facilities, online grocery ordering and collection, lifelong learning initiatives and more.
On 1 October, NTUC Health opened the doors of its first nursing home in Jurong West, with a capacity of more than 280 residents. The residential facility provides professional, person-centred and holistic care with a focus on rehabilitating residents back to the comfort and familiarity of their own home / community. The facility also houses the Silver Circle Senior Care Centre which can serve up to 60 seniors.