1,700 nursing-home staff needed

PHOTO: 1,700 nursing-home staff needed
Photo above: (From right) Current Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin, former MP Chiam See Tong and Minister Gan Kim Yong at a breakfast event with residents.

SINGAPORE - About 1,700 health-care workers will be needed to cater to the demands of the 10 new nursing homes to be built within communities, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

Mr Gan said that some 350 nurses and 1,300 support staff will be needed to run the facilities when they are ready by 2016.

The Government last month announced more than 100 new facilities to provide care for the elderly, to be built at a cost of S$500 million, as the country gears up to meet the needs of an ageing population.

Speaking on the sidelines of a dialogue with some 200 residents in Potong Pasir Community Club, he said: "We are pulling out all the stops...to recruit more manpower to meet our needs."

Recruitment efforts will be aided by increasing the enrolment of students in the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics, said Mr Gan.

The ministry will also encourage workers to consider mid-career switches to the health-care sector, and retirees to consider part-time work at the facilities.

These come on the heels of a Ministry of Health (MOH) announcement last Saturday on allowance increments for those making mid-career shifts to become nurses or allied health-care professionals.

The increased allowance is to help cover their living expenses during training.

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Member of Parliament (MP) and grassroots adviser for Potong Pasir SMC, was also present at the event.

He earlier hosted Mr Gan during a ministerial visit around the constituency.

Mr Sitoh took the opportunity to explain how the void deck at Block 108 in Potong Pasir Avenue 1 was chosen as the site of a wellness centre for the elderly.

The spot was where the constituency's previous MP, Mr Chiam See Tong, held his meet-the-people sessions.

Nine blocks had been considered, but some of them housed residential units on the ground floor, with no void-deck space available. The other blocks had void decks already housing amenities such as a kindergarten and a provision kiosk, said Mr Sitoh.

He said: "We eventually ended up at Block 108... Unfortunately, this issue has been politicised, in my opinion, quite unnecessarily."

He also revealed that voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) Wan Min Community Services will operate the wellness centre at Block 108, after it moves out of its current premises in nearby Woodsville Close. Earlier reports had said that the VWO's lease had expired.

Mr Sitoh said that Wan Min had approached him a year ago to discuss setting up a new centre at one of the nine blocks - Block 101 to 109 - it was considering.

Yesterday morning, Mr Gan and Mr Sitoh happened to meet Mr Chiam at a pot-luck breakfast event with residents held at a community garden in Toa Payoh Lorong 8.

Mr Chiam told reporters that the residents had invited him to the gathering when he visited them a week ago, as "they never forget me".

He added: "They are still happy to see me back here, and I respond in the same manner. I've seen them for the last 27 years, and the residents have always been very warm."


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