Dr Jennifer Lee, Chairman, AIC

Dr Wong Kirk Chuan, Deputy CEO, AIC

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

A. Introduction

1. Good afternoon. I am really pleased to be able to join you here today at the second ILTC Excellence Awards Ceremony.

2. The ILTC Excellence Awards recognise exemplary staff and excellent care practices with a focus on the community care sector.

3. This year, we have over 200 recipients from 23 organisations, including 10 Service Quality Award (Gold) winners, representing the pinnacle of achievement. I am really glad to see a wide representation across the community care sector - we have leaders, administrators, clinical professionals and care staff from community hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, eldercare centres and home care providers.

4. This year's ceremony is also significant as it is held back-to-back with the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare (Asia), a biannual gathering of healthcare professionals in quality improvement and patient safety. I am confident that many of you have benefitted from the Forum and gained valuable learning points that will contribute to the Quality Improvement culture in the sector.

B. The Community Care Sector is Growing in Significance

5. We need to continue this focus on quality as we ramp up our services to meet the needs of Singapore's ageing population. By 2030, we will have over 900,000 seniors aged 65 and over. We are growing capacity across home, centre-based and nursing home care to ensure our seniors can access care when they require it. We need to ensure that existing and new services are delivered with a high quality of care.

C. Quality Care is Important

6. Patients' expectations of care are increasingly rising. The expectations that care professionals place on themselves are also rising. Just last month, AIC held an inaugural Retreat on Quality in Community Care. It had broad representation from over 100 attendees in community care, including many leaders as well as senior management. There was strong consensus on the importance of quality improvement as a necessary part of care delivery, and on the importance of better care outcomes for our sector to be truly person-centred.

7. The Government fully supports and continuously encourages efforts towards better quality care. We have done so in three ways.

8. First, we have fostered initiatives that support Quality Improvement. Since 2014, about 90% of nursing homes have worked voluntarily with AIC to review their work processes. Many implemented initiatives to streamline processes and enhance care. This included projects aimed at improving value for creating standardised work procedures and an organised workplace. One such project with the Society for the Aged Sick who saved 365 work-hours per year by standardising the milk feed preparation method, freeing up time for staff to provide more value-added services to their clients.

9. Since 2015, AIC has facilitated new training collaborations between Regional Health Systems, external trainers and nursing homes to enhance their capabilities in both the clinical and social aspects of care with funding from MOH. We also developed care guidelines for home care and centre-based care in 2015, in consultation with the industry. These set out standards for care quality that we can work towards, and are being translated into actionable service requirements.

10. Second, we have made funding available to facilitate Quality Improvement projects. One example is the Tote Board Community Healthcare Fund (TBCHF), which is jointly administered by MOH, AIC and HPB. This supports programmes that can improve preventive care, community care, or build the capabilities of healthcare services. We also have the Healthcare Productivity Fund for the community care sector, which supports initiatives to adopt technology, conduct process reviews, conduct training and skills upgrading, and aggregate demand for goods and services.

11. Third, we have supported and continue to support innovation and research as a key driver of Quality Improvement. In August last year, we launched the Care-at-Home Innovation Grant, which is the first of the grant calls under the research thrust "Ageing in Place" under the National Innovation Challenge (NIC) on Active and Confident Ageing. We wanted the Grant to encourage greater innovation and adoption of technology by providers to serve home care clients in a more productive as well as cost-effective manner. I am pleased to share that we are in the process of awarding some $8M in funding to various innovative projects, including an initiative to train community caregivers to help take care of patients at home, and another initiative to enhance the productivity and quality of care through automated processes for data collection and sharing.

D. Recipients of the ILTC Excellence Awards 2016

12. Quality care can take different forms. We recognise this by having three different categories in this year's ILTC Excellence Awards.

13. First, the Clinical Quality category, which focuses on improvements in clinical outcomes for clients. Let me highlight Villa Francis Home for the Aged, which is receiving this award for improving the quality of care for residents with dermatological conditions. Currently, dermatologists visit Villa Francis about once a month. Villa Francis took the step to equip their nurses with better basic dermatological knowledge, which allows them to recognise early signs of dermatological conditions and start treatment early. This not only up-skills the nurses, but also improves clinical outcomes for patients, who can also avoid lengthy treatments if their conditions get too severe.

14. Second, the Service Quality category, which focuses on improvements in client service delivery resulting in better client experiences. I would also like to share that TOUCH Community Services is receiving a Service Quality Improvement Award for its "Seniors Caring for Seniors" project. I thought that was very creative and inspiring, because the project recruits able seniors from the TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre to befriend and support other frail and homebound seniors in the community. Something I often hear when we conduct feedback for our Action Plan for Successful Ageing - seniors want to remain useful, and be able to provide and contribute to the community. St Luke's Hospital is also receiving an award under this category, for its "Fast Track" programme together with NUH that significantly reduced the transfer waiting time for Total Knee Replacement patients by more than two days.

15. We also have an outstanding individual receiving the Service Quality (Gold) Award. This is Assistant Nurse Manager Esther Chong, from HCA Hospice Care. She was also a recipient of the Healthcare Humanity Awards in 2014. Esther attends to home palliative clients even after working hours, and frequently provides advice and emotional support to their caregivers. Her belief in holistic care also led her to join HCA's palliative caregiver training programme, where she both trains and helps with curriculum development. Esther has been in healthcare for 16 years! I am glad that today, we have the opportunity to recognise and honour her dedication in providing quality care to her patients.

16. Lastly, we have the Productivity and Innovation Award category, which looks at efforts to increase productivity, or display originality in the process of delivering good care outcomes. In this category, Orange Valley Nursing Home at Sims Avenue has enhanced their residents' quality of life by innovatively creating a "kampong" within the home, bringing delight and enjoyment to the residents. Indeed, I was very pleased to hear of this project receiving the award. I visited the home in November last year, and they really have a kampong. They really re-created the kampong feel.

17. Beyond these awards, I am also heartened to see the quality culture taking root within the sector. Because, of the 23 winning organisations this year, 14 of them are receiving awards for the second time! This is indicative of the dedication of these organisations to sustainable quality, and I certainly hope that this trend will continue in the coming years - even better if all of you can come back a third time!

E. Closing

18. In closing, I would like to once again congratulate all award recipients, and thank AIC for its efforts in rallying the sector towards delivering better care. I hope individual recipients will continue your good work, and inspire others to do the same. I also want to encourage organisations to continue to build cultures of excellence and continuously improve. Together, I am confident that we can deliver better care for our seniors.

19. Thank you.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore