Published on 28 Nov 2022
Singaporeans are living longer and in fact, have one of the longest lifespans amongst different populations in the world. By 2030, the number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is projected to triple to 900,000. With an ageing population, more Singaporeans would develop diseases such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, mental disorders and chronic respiratory disease. The rising burden of such diseases can be reduced with the support of community care teams.
Community care teams are touch points within the neighbourhood which would provide easily accessible healthcare services. NTUC Health’s Community of Care (CoC) team improves the quality of life for seniors by making home visits to encourage seniors to attend health screening, offering them 1-to-1 health coaching sessions and engaging their caregivers.
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Health screening should be done at regular intervals, like once a year or once in a few years or when a person reaches a certain age. To build a healthy community, our CoC team goes door-to-door three times a week to rally seniors living in Taman Jurong and Henderson to register for health screening. Free health screening is offered to Singaporeans who are 40 and above.
Such door-to-door engagement helps in reaching out to seniors who are reluctant to attend health screening and who, for some reason or other, are not keen to visit a GP or Polyclinic. Help can be offered to seniors who are experiencing symptoms and are reluctant to consult a doctor, preferring instead to bear with the discomfort or wait till their symptoms turn severe before doing so. During these home visits, the CoC team would sometimes formulate a care plan for certain seniors to improve their health and social well-being, for example, to increase their frequency of exercise, adopt a healthy diet and raise social participation. It was encouraging to note that after just three weeks of door-to-door engagement in 2022, 197 seniors registered for health screening through the outreach efforts of our CoC team.
At health screening, seniors are screened for common chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. Dental checks are also done. Not forgetting mental health, the NTUC Health Community Resource Engagement and Support (CREST) team is also brought in to conduct mental wellbeing checks to identify any early signs and symptoms of depression.
During health screening, 50% of the seniors were newly diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. 1 in 5 seniors were also found to require intervention because of abnormal body mass index (BMI). Some other seniors were also found to have symptoms of mental conditions which led to recommendations for further checks. As such, health screenings have been helpful to ensure that seniors receive early intervention to stay healthy.
For seniors with a new diagnosis, the CoC team would conduct a personalised health coaching session for them. Community partners such as Trigen, a social organisation that comprises healthcare volunteers and Singapore General Hospital, are also brought onboard to help these seniors understand their newly diagnosed condition. The customised health coaching session would include volunteers highlighting to seniors possible complications that could arise due to their condition. They would also educate seniors on how they can make lifestyle changes to be healthier and the importance of going for follow-up sessions with their doctor. Trigen also teaches the seniors how to use digital applications such as HealthHub, Healthy 365 and Singpass to easily schedule medical appointments and to better monitor their own health.
For seniors with a clean bill of health, the CoC team encourages them to register with our Active Ageing Centres so that they can attend programmes such as health talks and activities conducted by volunteers. They can even become volunteers to teach others a new skill!
Apart from chronic disease management, the CoC team also takes care of family members or domestic workers who are caregivers. For instance, the CoC team links them up with a caregiver support group, which is managed by the CREST Team. In this group, community resources related to eldercare and caregiving are shared via Whatsapp every Friday. Meetings for caregivers are also organised, at least once every three months at an Active Ageing Centre or virtually to exchange caregiving tips and receive support in their caregiving journey.
At NTUC Health, we believe in encouraging our seniors to live life to the fullest. Encouraging them to register and attend health screenings, and signing them up for activities at our Active Ageing Centres are some of the ways we help our seniors keep healthy to maintain their quality of life.
Looking to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of seniors, or want to find a community that cares? Check out our Active Ageing services!
Are you interested in checking out new MRT trains or checking out new recreational attractions in Singapore? Find out more in this article and get active!
Planning for a fun day out with the whole family, friends or going on a solo adventure? Check out our list of senior and child-friendly attractions along the newest MRT line - Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) - and have an intergenerational outing!
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