Parliamentary question, 6 Jan 2020
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Health (a) what lessons are learnt from the implementation of the Community Mental Health Masterplan (CMHM) and National Mental Health Blueprint (NMHB); (b) whether these lessons will influence the next CMHM and NMHB; © whether the Ministry will consider running public consultations for these plans; and (d) whether the Ministry will consider distinguishing dementia from mental health conditions under the plans, since they each require different strategies, treatment and support to be dealt with.
[The Minister chose to answer the above question with the following question from Dr. Chia Shi Lu.
Dr Chia Shi-Lu asked the Minister for Health (a) what is the prevalence and incidence of dementia in Singapore over the past five years; (b) whether our health services are adequately resourced to manage dementia patients given our ageing population; and © what has been the progress in the establishment of dementia-friendly communities.]
Mr Gan Kim Yong: In 2007, MOH implemented the National Mental Health Blueprint to improve early detection and treatment for persons with mental health conditions. Subsequently, the Community Mental Health (CMH) Masterplan was launched in 2012 to place more focus on mental health care in the community for persons to receive care closer to home.
Through these plans, MOH has increased accessibility and capacity of mental health services in the healthcare institutions and community, facilitated early identification and access to interventions. For example, the Agency for Integrated Care has worked with community service providers to set up 41 community outreach teams to educate the public on mental health conditions and dementia, and refer those with such conditions to the appropriate health and/ or social services. We have also increased access to mental health and/ or dementia services in 12 polyclinics.
According to the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) study 2013, one in 10 seniors aged 60 years and above is estimated to have dementia. We recognise that there are differences in the needs of persons with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and those with dementia. However, the broad approach is similar, that is to increase access to appropriate care, through early identification, build capabilities and capacity in the community to identify and treat such conditions. With this approach, we have strengthened dementia services in the community.
For example, we have established eight Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFCs), to create an inclusive society for persons with dementia and their caregivers. These are neighbourhoods which are equipped to better support persons with dementia and their caregivers to continue living well at home, where residents, grassroot leaders, businesses and the community are trained to recognise dementia signs and symptoms. We are on track to expand the number of DFCs to 15 by 2021.
In addition, MOH has more than tripled the number of Dementia Day Care places since 2015. These Day Care Centres can serve up to 3,400 persons with dementia each day. Working caregivers in particular can have peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones are well-cared for in the day.
MOH has also increased dementia capability and capacity in the acute hospitals. We have piloted new specific inpatient dementia services in three acute hospitals (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Changi General Hospital and Institute of Mental Health) and two Community Hospitals (St Luke’s Hospital and Saint Andrew’s Community Hospital), to cater to patients of varying severity. We are now working to expand such inpatient dementia services to more hospitals to strengthen hospitals’ capabilities in inpatient dementia care. Since 2012, we have also grown outpatient Memory Clinic capacity in our acute hospitals, to ensure that persons with dementia have access to early outpatient assessment, detection, multi-disciplinary intervention and caregiver support. For long-term care, new nursing homes developed by MOH are designed with dementia-friendly features to cater to the needs of persons with dementia.
We are currently adopting a whole-of-government approach to review the overall strategy on mental health together with other ministries and stakeholders, and will also consider consultation with relevant stakeholders. The review will take into account learnings from the implementation of our existing mental health plans, such as recruiting more mental health service providers and addressing mental health stigma, to improve awareness of mental well-being and strengthen access to mental health support.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).
Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng