NTUC Health Nursing Home at Chai Chee isn’t a typical nursing home that comes to mind
A dumping ground?
For a long time, a stigma has been tied to Singapore’s nursing homes — the elderly who reside there are abandoned to die, forgotten and have no place to call home.
So Mustsharenews paid a visit to NTUC Health’s nursing home at Chai Chee to find out what a nursing home is like, and why it impacts everyday working people like us.
Not so typical
Before stepping foot into the compounds of the nursing home, we thought our Grabcar driver dropped us off at the wrong location.
Pastel-coloured walls and heavily grilled windows were nowhere in sight; instead, the nursing home looked like a condominium.
Credit: NTUC Health
An insider look
1. Themed floors
Being away from home for a period of time can be daunting, especially when the elderly have become emotionally attached to their own homes. But one of the many ways NTUC Health Nursing Home (Chai Chee) ensures residents don’t feel out of place, is to create nostalgic and localised themes for every floor that the residents would find familiar.
And an old marketplace, street hawker and a typical HDB home-style living room.
Credit: NTUC Health
These paintings help residents feel more at ease as they bring back nostalgic memories.
2. Progressive suite of services relevant to your needs
Some people think that all residents in nursing homes are abandoned by their families to stay there until their last breath.
On the contrary, residents receive 24/7 medical assistance by professional nurses and caregivers in a nursing home — something their children might not be able to provide as they are either working to feed the family and/or unable to find a trained full-time caregiver.
NTUC Health Nursing Home offers a suite of services for residents, including one which you may not be aware of. They allocate resources to focus on rehabilitation, so as to enable residents with high potential for recovery, to return home.
This is done through detailed assessments and identifying residents for the intensive rehabilitation programme, where residents go through therapy, almost daily. These therapy sessions are conducted in variations of one-to-one for a more personalised approach; as well as in group settings to help with motivation, and to facilitate interactions. These are done on top of daily morning exercises conducted by therapy assistants.
A physiotherapist assists Mr Lim, a resident who has been discharged
and returned home to be with his family.
Mr Lim Tio Huat was under the intensive rehabilitation program during his stay at NTUC Health Nursing Home (Chai Chee). His physiotherapist, Reddy, saw him for an hour, five days a week, for one-to-one physiotherapy sessions that targeted specific muscle groups which helped him to regain his mobility.
This is on top of occupational therapy sessions and other group therapy sessions that helped him improve his ability to perform daily living activities, while he concurrently developed his muscle strength and endurance.
When he first entered the home in July 2017, Mr Lim was not able to walk on his own, and also required help when it came to daily activities like toileting and showering or transfers (getting in and out of bed).
Being an individual that valued his independence, Mr Lim was extremely motivated to regain his mobility as much as possible. After working closely with NTUC Health’s Allied Health team (Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists), as well as doctors, nurses and medical social workers, he was discharged 3 months later in October.
Now, Mr Lim is able to walk for some 30 – 40 meters with a walking stick, and is also better able to do activities such as toileting and showering with minimal assistance.
NTUC Health Nursing Home (Chai Chee) is equipped with gym equipment
that can be calibrated to each resident’s physiotherapy needs.
Family members of residents, as well as residents themselves, are consulted to get a deeper understanding of what they are trying to achieve from the rehabilitation program. On top of that, home visits are conducted to ensure that residents return to a home that is safe, and would facilitate their day to day living. Necessary built-in aids and other home adjustments would be recommended by NTUC Health’s therapists (e.g. shower seat, support railings, etc).
Morning exercises are conducted on a daily basis from 9:30 am – 10:30 am.
This keeps residents active, allows them to engage in social interactions, and helps them to maintain or improve their agility.
3. Rehabilitating suitable residents to go back home to loved ones
Another former resident who was discharged back home from rehabilitation was 63-year-old Mdm Ang Cheh Eng. She was diagnosed with cancer, became wheelchair bound and was unable to care for herself.
At NTUC Health’s nursing home at Chai Chee, she went through intensive rehabilitation and was strongly supported by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists and medical social workers.
Through her five months stay at NTUC Health Nursing Home (Chai Chee), she had learnt to walk with a walking frame and more importantly, she is now able to care for herself again and was discharged home to be with her husband in July 2017.
“I am really happy to be independent again now, being able to move about on my own and care for myself. I was also very motivated, as not being able to move about affected me more than my cancer!” said Mdm Ang.
4. Dynamically ready to address evolving needs
According to TODAY, Singapore has one of the fastest-ageing populations. People living with dementia is expected to double by 2030.
Mdm Seet, a resident at NTUC Health Nursing Home (Chai Chee),
plays with her favourite puzzles that help her remember alphabets and numbers.
The staff at NTUC Health’s nursing homes are also in the process of being dementia-trained. While they learn to better manage and care for residents living with dementia, they are also passionate in their work and constantly encourage residents to participate in mentally stimulating activities like reading, chess and arts & crafts.
NTUC Health staff are also supported by the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU), which works closely with NTUC Health to encourage employees to take the initiative to enhance their current and future skills, knowledge, employability and job value through opportunities provided by NTUC Health.
Competent employees benefit from progressive wages and career paths as they contribute to the lives of residents under their care.
5. Cost and subsidies
The cost of accommodation at NTUC Health’s nursing home ranges between $2,000 to $3,500 per month, before Government subsidy and excluding consumables.
Government subsidies are available depending on the household per capita monthly income. However, government subsidies don’t apply to private nursing homes.
A sanctuary for Singapore’s elderly
The truth is, we assume that nursing homes are a convenient dumping ground for unfilial children because, for decades, television shows and movies have etched that stereotype into our brains.
But this assumption was probably made without knowing much about nursing homes in the first place. Because if we knew what a nursing home was really like, the stigma would cease to exist.
NTUC Health’s eldercare services are not limited to nursing homes.
Residents who are successfully rehabilitated are welcome to attend NTUC Health’s home care or day care services; where they can be cared for in the privacy of their own homes or in an environment where they can mingle with other seniors at day care centres.
They can also get their health and dental checkups done at the Unity Family Medicine Clinic and Unity Denticare respectively. Unity Denticare currently visits NTUC Health’s nursing homes twice a year, so residents are able to get a comprehensive dental health check at their Mobile Dental Clinic.
More than simply moderating costs, from nursing home care, homecare, daycare and healthcare, NTUC Health provides working families with these services to give us peace of mind when we’re at work, by taking care of the needs of our families including our parents and elderly relatives.
NTUC Health is also one of several NTUC social enterprises within the Labour Movement network, which is evolving to be more progressive and relevant to our needs as an ageing population.
Visit http://ntuchealth.sg/nursing-homes/ for more information.
This article is brought to you by the Labour Movement, which is expanding its eldercare services to make them more relevant, accessible and affordable to meet your needs.
Feature photo: NTUC Health