Press Releases

Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s New Institute Activates New Levels of Care in Community

Volunteerism in healthcare has just become more exciting with the launch of Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Centre for Health Activation (CHA) today by Mr Ng How Yue, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, at this year’s Singapore Patient Conference. By providing customized training, resources and opportunities, CHA aims to empower patients and caregivers to confidently go beyond just managing their own health to support other patients; and volunteers who aspire to do more, to be able to take part in para-clinical areas alongside healthcare professionals.

Professor Eugene Fidelis Soh, Chief Executive Officer, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Central Health says, “As Healthcare moves closer to our homes in the community, we will need to evolve our care that is facility-based to a relationship-based one. This will focus us on what our patients value. Our patients, families and volunteers play an important part in healthcare. CHA is a training and research institute for co-learning with our community of care. With CHA, we will engage and activate our patients, families and volunteers, and together we can better care for our loved ones.”

The hospital intends to start with training its large pool of volunteers. Already, the hospital is seeing encouraging developments in one of its pioneer projects. Under CHA’s Eye Clinic Volunteer Programme, volunteers in TTSH’s Eye Clinic go through a structured training programme developed to ensure that the volunteers were trained in different roles ranging from care navigation to educating patients on the right way of instilling eye drops and giving elderly eye patients proper guidance in performing difficult visual field tests.

Feedback from 110 patients and caregivers showed that 93% of them welcome the volunteers’ involvement in improving their care journeys. The older people benefit from the volunteers’ reminders to instil their glaucoma eye drops correctly. The volunteers also actively refer patients who seem unsure of self-administering their glaucoma eye drops to the glaucoma nurse clinician for more intensive education. Through the use of a glaucoma eye drop checklist, volunteers help doctors to identify patients who are compliant but no longer seem to be benefiting from their eye medications. With the guidance of volunteers just prior to performing visual field tests, patients are better equipped to perform these tests with greater accuracy. This is important for monitoring the progress and guiding the care of glaucoma patients. These volunteers are supporting the care team, actively providing insights that could help design interventions for better clinical outcomes.

Another programme recently aggregated under the CHA framework is the Hospital Elder Life Programme (HELP) and in the pipeline are several programmes developed with our Community, Nursing and Allied Health teams, including the Inpatient Total Knee Replacement (TKR) Volunteer Programme. The HELP Volunteer Programme looks at equipping volunteers with an understanding of delirium in the elderly, its complications and how to prevent them so that volunteers can better engage such patients in the ward. The TKR Volunteer Programme trains volunteers to help such patients in simple rehabilitation exercises in the wards to enhance their recovery.

Besides training, CHA will also conduct research with the aim of developing and sustaining volunteerism. Ground sensing work with patients, families, volunteers and healthcare professionals will help identify needs within the community to develop better programmes and training, aligned with each volunteer’s interests and competence. CHA will also work with external academics and internal researchers to conduct studies on patient activation and the role of volunteerism in bridging the gap in health and social care.

It will create opportunities for volunteers in Singapore to network, support, share and learn from one another, enabling a more conducive environment to support and grow a community in care.

“Research has shown that in healthcare, volunteers improve the experience of care and support, strengthen the relationship between services and communities and support integrated care for people with multiple health needs. It is only fitting that this year’s instalment of the SPC is themed ‘Volunteerism – Powering Change in Health and Social Care’. We want to acknowledge and celebrate the rising significance of volunteers in bridging health and social care,” said Dr Mark Chan, Co Chairman of this year’s conference, a key learning and sharing platform for meaningful conversations to take place between patients, caregivers, volunteers, community partners and healthcare professionals.

Singapore Patient Action Awards

The Conference also celebrated 13 esteemed recipients comprising caregivers, volunteers and volunteer groups from over 61 nominations by awarding them with SPAA awards for impacting and enhancing the quality of lives of patients in Singapore.

Assistant Director of Nursing at Singapore General Hospital, 52 year old Ms Chong Lai Ling often goes beyond her call of duty to provide support and assistance to patients, regardless of their nationality. In 2007, for instance, she invited a young leukaemia patient from China, who was in Singapore alone, to stay with her. Ms Chong treated him like family as his parents could not afford to travel with him. She also provides psychosocial support to patients, addressing their fears and concerns about the clinical trials they are on, and helped patients keep in touch with their loved ones back home.

49-year old Mdm Choong Siet Mei is caregiver and wife to Mr Tan Whee Boon who had both his upper and lower limbs amputated due to a bout of severe food poisoning in 2015. She has been taking care of his physical and emotional needs. Mdm Choong’s encouragement led her husband to join the amputee support group and together, the couple often visit other amputees to inspire and bring hope to them.

Please see Annex A for the fact sheet on CHA and Annex B for information on all the award recipients.