Speech by President Halimah Yacob for Society for the Aged Sick 50th Anniversary Dinner
Mr Eric Teoh, President, Society for the Aged Sick
Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minster for Health
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening. I am happy to be here today to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Society for the Aged Sick (SAS) with everyone. Today’s event holds special significance for all of us here – donors, volunteers, and partners alike – all of whom have helped immensely in SAS’s mission to provide quality aged care for the community, particular the less privileged, to help them lead meaningful and enriching lives since 1968.
SAS has come a long way from its early beginnings. Founded as the “Welfare Resthome” by Ms Teresa Hsu and her sister Ms Ursula Khow, it has grown from a home that once served only 16 residents, to the current SAS with a total of 404 beds. As one of the pioneers providing care services for the aged and sick, the Home seeks to honour its founder’s vision of helping the poor and needy seniors in Singapore. The founders are indeed women with big hearts.
Singapore’s population is rapidly ageing. By 2030, the number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is expected to nearly double from the 1 in 7 today, to reach 1 in 4. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been actively expanding aged care capacity to ensure that Singaporeans can receive the necessary care when they need it. I am happy to know that government is on track to reach the target of 17,000 nursing home beds, 6,200 day places, and 10,000 home care places by 2020.
SAS has been a strong partner in responding to the increasing need for aged care services for those who are frail and are unable to be cared for at home. Since its latest expansion in 2013, SAS grew from 160 beds to the current 404 nursing home beds through the construction of its new tower block, with the funding support from MOH. The opening ceremony for the tower block was officiated by our Health Minister, Mr. Gan Kim Yong, who is also here with us today. The new facilities, such as a physiotherapy centre and an occupational therapy room, have allowed SAS to provide more holistic care for its residents. It is important to allow the residents to strengthen their muscles and prevent degeneration of their health.
One example of a resident who has benefitted from the new facilities and personalised therapy is Mr. Ng. Mr. Ng moved into SAS 11 months ago, after suffering a severe stroke in 2017. Through his sheer determination and dedication of the rehabilitation team, Mr. Ng is now able to transfer out of bed with minimal assistance, independently move in his wheelchair and even practise walking with a quad stick aided by the ceiling hoist. Mr Ng is very upbeat and enjoys walking with his quad stick. SAS is hopeful that he will continue to make progress, aided by updated rehabilitation facilities and technology. This gives them a sense of control over their situations and also encourage them to live more positively and look forward to their rehabilitation.
As we expand capacity and enrich the scope of services of our nursing homes, we also want to improve the quality of care. I understand that SAS is also a firm believer in providing quality care, and offers a good range of rehabilitative programmes and social activities to keep its residents physically-, socially- and mentally-engaged.
Let me share another example of a resident, Madam Lee, who has benefitted from these initiatives. Jonathan, her Occupational Therapist, observed that Madam Lee used to be disengaged and lonely. However, after she has joined the SAS programmes, she found likeminded friends in reminiscence therapy as residents share stories with one another. Mdm Lee has also found greater purpose through work rehabilitation, where she and her “kakis” help SMEs out with simple tasks such as packing of collaterals. In Jonathan’s eyes, these therapeutic programmes have helped residents and care professionals forge deeper bonds with one another. These residents now feel like they are part of a family, going beyond the simple relationship of care professionals and residents. Thank you to the professionals and volunteers on such a wonderful job thus far.
In closing, I would like to congratulate the management and employees of SAS on this significant milestone. I am also grateful for SAS’s commitment and dedication to the aged care sector for the past 50 years. It is not easy to do so, especially given the challenging job scope. Fifty years is a cause for celebration. Its perseverance and faithfulness in providing a home for the less privileged seniors is admirable.
It is my privilege to be here to witness this milestone. I look forward to celebrating the next 50 years with SAS.