Follow along as we celebrate NTUC Health's history of over 50 years in the health and eldercare industry.
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. It was set up to provide quality and affordable dental services to workers. The first dental clinic was opened in Corporation Drive in May 1972. Today, it is known as NTUC Health Denticare.
In the early 1990s, NTUC recognised the concerns of the public 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 first pharmacy retail outlet in NTUC FairPrice Clementi. By 1996, NTUC Healthcare had 18 pharmacy outlets, and unveiled a new brand identity – 'Unity'.
In 1997, NTUC recognised the need to provide quality and affordable eldercare services for middle income families and set up NTUC Eldercare Co-operative Limited. Back then, the Labour Movement anticipated the challenges of an ageing 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.
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 services 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.
We opened our first Senior Activity Centre in Redhill. The centres are drop-in locations 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. They also double up as support centres where seniors can turn to for help in times of emergency.
NTUC Healthcare introduced case management services to vulnerable seniors through a team of trained social workers to provide Cluster Support. We were appointed in 2012 by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to operate Senior Cluster Networks (SCN); and now run two Cluster Support teams at Bukit Merah and Taman Jurong. Our Cluster Support teams conduct regular visits to vulnerable seniors with little or no family support, and connect them with relevant community partners for social or financial assistance when needed.
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 ageing 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.
We worked with the government to pilot the Interim Caregiver Service, where hospitalised seniors who are ready to be discharged but are awaiting long-term caregiving arrangements such as foreign domestic helpers, can return home and be cared for by our nurses. We are one of two providers in Singapore currently offering the service.
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.
NTUC Health launched its first Mobile Dental Clinic, operated by Denticare and supported by the Health Productivity Fund-Intermediate and Long-Term Care (HPF-ILTC). The Mobile Dental Clinic was started as part of efforts to provide accessible and affordable dental care to seniors in the community as well as to seniors who are less mobile in nursing homes.
We embarked on the Care Close To Home programme, an initiative by Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to help seniors in rental precincts age-in-place by providing them with social support. As a partner of this programme, we care for vulnerable seniors living in three rental blocks in the Henderson area.
At the 4th Eldercare Innovation Awards 2016, our Senior Activity Centre (Marsiling) clinched the Best Approach to Support Ageing-in-Place and Best Silver Architecture – Community Spaces, and was a Finalist for Best Wellness Programme – Community.
In February 2017, NTUC Health opened its 13th Senior Care Centre in Ci Yuan Community Club at Hougang; an 800 square metres facility with a capacity to serve some 80 seniors.
In January and April 2017, NTUC Health opened the doors of its second and third nursing homes in Chai Chee and Geylang East respectively. NTUC Health’s three nursing homes including its first at Jurong West, have a combined total of close to 1,000 beds. Each nursing home has a Silver Circle Senior Care Centre housed within its premises; which can serve a total of close to 300 seniors. With the third nursing home up and running, NTUC Health is now one of the largest nursing home providers in Singapore.
At the 5th Eldercare Innovation Awards 2017, Silver Circle won the Best Day Care Programme award; Care@home was awarded Finalist for the Best Technology for Operational Efficiency.
NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool (MFS) and NTUC Health partnered to develop a three-tiered inter-generational model to bring young children and seniors together. The programme aims to empower seniors by giving them a stronger sense of purpose through mentoring the younger generation, and inculcate in pre-schoolers values of empathy, compassion and respect for the elders.
NTUC Health opened the very first therapeutic rooftop garden situated in a nursing home. The garden, based at NTUC Health Nursing Home (Jurong West), was designed in consultation with NParks and incorporates therapy-based principles to enable senior residents to interact with elements in nature. Through that, they can reminisce and socialise with peers, visitors, volunteers and staff, to improve their overall wellbeing. The garden received the NParks Skyrise Greenery Special Award and the Community in Bloom Gold Achievement Band Award.
NTUC Health started its first Active Ageing Hub located in Kampung Admiralty, “Singapore’s first retirement village”. The Active Ageing Hub offers a wide range of services for seniors, including senior day care and day rehabilitation services, as well as community and volunteer activities.
We also piloted Tango, a programme targeted at seniors in the Braddell Heights area who want to stay active and engaged, through a suite of fitness, housekeeping and home care services, along with curated social activities which aim to build a sense of community.
At the 6th Eldercare Innovation Awards 2018, NTUC Health Nursing Home won ‘Facility of the Year – Residential Aged Care’ and was a Finalist for Best Active Ageing Programme – Residential, and Best Rehabilitation Operator.
NTUC Health continued to support seniors and caregivers with the opening of three new Day Centres for Seniors in Bukit Merah (Silat), Heartbeat@Bedok and Kampung Admiralty. We also reached out to more vulnerable seniors through our Care Close to Home programme, where we expanded our service area from Henderson to 6 more rental blocks in Lengkok Bahru.
NTUC Health continued to expand with six new Day Centres for Seniors in Boon Lay, Bukit Batok West, Henderson, Jurong Central Plaza, Radin Mas and Wisma Geylang Serai. Efforts were also invested into the design of the new centres and to refresh older centres such as Dakota. The new look and feel is designed to give our seniors a home-away-from-home experience as they socialise with each other, acquire new skills, and take part in recreational activities.
We also opened two new Senior Activity Centres for seniors staying in rental housing at Mount Faber and Boon Lay. NTUC Health also opened its doors to its second and third Active Ageing Hub at Jurong Central Plaza and Bukit Batok West to support seniors by keeping them active and mentally stimulated with our wide range of social activities, programmes and outings.
At the 7th Eldercare Innovation Awards 2019, NTUC Health’s Active Ageing Hub (Kampung Admiralty) clinched the awards for the ‘Best Active Ageing Programme – Community’; and NTUC Health Nursing Home was a Finalist for ‘Facility of the Year – Ageing in Place’.
Starting from December 2019, NTUC Health merged its portfolio of service brands into a single ‘NTUC Health’ brand. This helps individuals and families access our comprehensive suite of elderly care and active ageing services more easily. We also refreshed our brand logo to take on a more modern and refreshing look and feel.
At the SingHealth Quality Service Award 2020, our Nursing Home and Allied Health colleagues received the Best Team Award (Clinical Practice Improvement) for the Return to Continence programme in addition to 4 individual Gold and 75 individual Silver awards - the highest number of awards won at this event to date.
Our staff were also recognised with 8 individual awards and the Clinical Quality Improvement Award for the Return to Continence programme at the Agency for Integrated Care Community Care Excellence Award 2020.
NTUC Health embarked on a pilot Communities of Care project with the Agency for Integrated Care to serve seniors in the Taman Jurong and Henderson areas, including those from non-rental HDB blocks. More seniors will have their health and social care needs assessed by our staff, paving the way for the government’s new Eldercare Model where community care providers will take a population-based approach to caring for seniors in the community.
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NTUC Health is one of the largest senior day care, nursing home and home personal care providers in Singapore.
As a social enterprise, NTUC Health is committed to support seniors in need; working with both government and community partners to bring dignity and care to these seniors.
By helping seniors live without the constraints of age, we nurture the Ageless Senior philosophy and encourage enthusiasm for living life to the fullest.
On this journey of caring for your senior loved ones, don’t forget to take care of yourself. We are right beside you and always ready to lend a hand.
The Health for Life Fund was set up to establish, support and promote the material, emotional, psychological and physical welfare of the elderly. The Fund also aims to enable quality and affordable community-based services.