NTUC Has a Nursing Home & It’ll Change Your View of Nursing Homes

This is a guest post contributed by Ling.

Many nursing homes in Singapore look more like a hospital than a cosy home. So the idea of staying in a nursing home can be rather off-putting for some elderly.

It doesn’t help that nursing homes are stigmatised as “places of abandonment”. How can nursing homes be thoughtfully designed to help the elderly age with dignity and purpose?

In Ohio, there is an assisted living facility that was designed to look like a golf course community. Residents could look out to a golf course along their corridors from their houses with front porches.

At night, these porches light up to remind patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that it’s no longer daytime. There is even a “sky ceiling” feature.

These ideas are great and should be implemented in Singapore!

NTUC Health recently opened their second nursing home in Chai Chee and we were invited to view the facility. Here are 5 things which we love about the place.

It feels like Singapore in the 60s

These functional day spaces help elderly residents reminisce the good old memories! It aims to encourage them to stay out of bed and spend time with their friends in the home as well as their loved ones when they pop by.

The nursing home also took the effort to design their day spaces into a typical HDB living room to look like a old cosy HDB flat with a black and white television, tingkats on the wooden shelf and a sewing machine. There are also old-fashioned squarish ceramic tiles and retro window grilles.

These thoughtful fittings definitely make the place feel more homely.

“Practise studio” for elderly who have successfully rehabilitated

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At first glance, this may look like an ageing-in-place studio where it offers ideas on how to “elder-proof” the home for elderly.

In reality, it’s actually more than that! It’s a functional studio for elderly who are going through rehabilitation. They can practise how to integrate back in their own homes and perform day-to-day tasks more independently.

NTUC Health focuses on helping residents get well enough to return home to be with their loved ones through their rehabilitation programmes.

They believe that residents need not spend their last days in a nursing home if they have the potential to be independent within their communities.

The therapists will assess how likely the residents are in regaining functional independence through intensive rehabilitation. Those who have rehabilitation potential will go through the Active Rehabilitation Programme to expedite the recovery process.

Mdm Ang Cheh Eng, former resident of NTUC Health’s Chai Chee nursing home (Source)

You might be surprised to know that this programme has helped more than 20 residents such as Mdm Ang Cheh Eng successfully rehabilitate and return to the comfort of their own homes!

Five to six bedder rooms

While there are aspirations to shift to single-bedrooms to provide more privacy for elderly, this is already a great leap from some nursing homes in Singapore that still house 25 to 30 residents in one room.

Land is scarce in Singapore and it will hurt the affordability of care if all nursing homes only have single and double-bedded rooms.

At NTUC Health nursing home, it will cost approximately $2,000 to $3,500 per month before subsidy and excluding consumables (diaper etc.). With eligible subsidies from the Government, the cost can be reduced to a few hundred dollars per month.

Considering how it can cost up to $5,000 for a single room in a private nursing home, it is actually more “worth it” to fork out less than a fraction of that cost for an equally comfortable and safe environment at NTUC Health’s nursing home.

The rooms are clean, airy and the greenery outside the windows offer a sense of tranquility.

Meaningful activities to engage the elderly

There are fun and mentally-stimulating activities to keep the residents engaged and empowered at the home.

Neighbouring school students engage in art and craft activities with the residents and even make props with the residents, for photo-taking. Residents get to keep these photos as a remembrance!

NTUC Health also collaborates with My First Skool (under NTUC First Campus) to encourage inter-generational bonding. Preschoolers and elderly residents interact to work on craft work together.

The inter-generational interaction benefits both parties. Elderly will feel more valued when they are surrounded by young kids and the young ones will learn to be more empathetic and respectful towards seniors.

It might also help the young to interact more with their grandparents at home.

The activities are purposefully designed to help the elderly age with dignity.

More than just a nursing home

Besides three nursing homes in Chai Chee, Geylang East and Jurong West, NTUC Health also runs Silver Circle Senior Care Centres which provides affordable eldercare services such as dementia care, community nursing and active rehabilitation.

One such centre is located on the second level of the eleven-storey building in Chai Chee which houses the nursing home too.

The senior care centre supports working families by providing a place where their elderly loved ones can be cared for by professionals, make friends and spend their time meaningfully while their families are at work during the day.

Caption:“The Quiet Room” – a calming environment within Silver Circle Senior Care Centre  (Chai Chee)

NTUC Health has designed the Silver Circle Senior Care Centre facilities to anticipate the needs of the elderly, especially those with dementia who may not respond well to the new environment when they first join the centre.

It is common for some elderly with dementia to experience transfer trauma – a term that is used to describe the stress that a person with dementia may feel when changing environments.

Many people with dementia also find noise annoying so the Quiet Room aims to create a soothing and calming atmosphere for them to minimise their confusion and help them rest.

There are soft toys, light activities and relaxing music to offer some comfort to these elderly with dementia.

While they re-calibrate themselves in this room, the employees at the centre will inform the caregivers of these elderly and may ask them to bring the elderly home to rest.

What we love about NTUC Health is that they adopt a person-centered approach to care and help the elderly age in dignity, whether it is in a nursing home or senior/day care centre.

NTUC Health and the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) have also committed to helping employees in their career development, knowledge and skills in a Collective Agreement, so that their staff are equipped and supported to do their jobs well.

NTUC Health also progressively evolves their services and integrate with other NTUC social enterprises to dynamically create new offerings that Singapore’s ageing population needs, such as structured programmes to bring My First Skool students and seniors together.

Hopefully this will encourage other eldercare operators to follow suit.

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com