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Transforming Community Health: SIT’s Bid to Extend Health Span and Person-Centric Care

Community Health Transformation is among the research programmes being set up to build SIT’s translation-focused research capability

6 Nov 2020

The World Health Organisation defines health ageing as “developing and maintain functional ability that enables well-being in older age. Functional ability is determined by one’s physical and mental capacities, as well as the environment. 

SIT has been working with public agencies, including Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of National Development (MND), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Enterprise Singapore, as well as the health and community care industry to develop integrated preventive and supportive care models and interventions through applied research. Aligning with the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Masterplan, as well as MOH's "3 Beyonds" population policies — Healthcare to Health, Hospital to Community, and Quality to Value — the aim of SIT's Community Health research programme is to extend health span, and promote healthy ageing and innovation in community rehabilitation. 

The programme studies ways to better identify a person’s physical, psychological and social vulnerability to functional decline, introduce strategies to prevent or reduce these vulnerabilities, as well as provide person-centric care to those with functional impairment, such as dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, etc. The following is a snapshot of these efforts:

Identifying Vulnerabilities Across Life Span

Extending health span involves identifying and reducing vulnerabilities, such as frailty, risk of falls or dementia, along with physical, mental and social activities to promote successful ageing. 
Yishun Study: Various topics are being explored under a local population and community-based study to identify vulnerabilities across lifespan.
Team: Led by Assoc Prof Wee Shiou Liang, Health and Social Sciences, SIT.

Identifying, reducing and preventing vulnerabilities towards more successful ageing.

Community Cognitive Health Screening and Intervention Programme

Research to help identify and reduce physical and cognitive vulnerabilities.
Pilot of community-based dementia risk screening tool: A six-month intervention programme for 200 older adults with increased risk of dementia was implemented through neighbourhood senior centres. Results showed that the programme reaped improvement in physical performance of participants and also highlighted areas of improvement for uptake of such interventions in the community.

Team: Assoc Prof Wee, in collaboration with industry partners.

Community-based Falls Prevention Programme: Implementation and evaluation of a community-based falls prevention project in 2020. Asst Prof Xu conducted several training workshops as a ‘Stepping On’ programme master trainer in Singapore, equipping more healthcare professionals to run the falls prevention programme in Singapore. 16 community sites will be approached as part of this clinical trial by early 2021.
Team: Asst Prof Tim Xu, Deputy Programme Director, SIT, in collaboration with Geriatric Education and Research Institute (GERI), National Healthcare Group (NHG) and community partners

Community-based Frailty and Malnutrition Screening and Intervention Programme: Implementation and evaluation of screening and intervention programme.
Team: Assoc Prof Wee with industry partner, Empower Ageing, as well as community care partners, including Presbyterian Community Services, NTUC and SATA Community Health.

Group discussion for the "Say No to Frailty" programme.
“Say No to Frailty” Programme: A group intervention designed for older community-living adults with signs of frailty and pre-frailty. Well-received by the participants, caregivers, and service providers, the project achieved positive outcomes in reducing the level of frailty and increasing community participation.

Team: Led by Asst Prof Xu, with support from SIT students in 2018 and 2019. 

Ageing in Place – Innovation in Community Rehabilitation

To enable ageing in place, there are opportunities for cross-cluster collaborations in SIT to innovate in community rehabilitation. 

Community Reintegration After Stroke (CREATE) Programme: For community-living stroke survivors in Singapore. Programme has successfully helped community-living survivors regain confidence and functional mobility. It is ready for a larger-scale implementation trial.
Team: Asst Prof Xu, with support from industry partners – Wellness Kampung @ Yishun, SPD (Society for the Physically Disabled) and Stroke Support Station.

Multi-modal training programme (MOTIVATE): Targeted at the problem of physical inactivity after stroke. Project is due for completion in end 2022 and it aims at improving access to fitness centres for stroke survivors in Singapore.
Team: Assoc Prof Kwah Li Khim and her team – in collaboration with Singapore General Hospital, Singapore National Stroke Association, SportCares (under ActiveSG, Sport Singapore), Republic Polytechnic, as well as SIT’s Design and Specialised Businesses and Engineering clusters

Person-Centric Dementia and Long-Term Care

The envisioned void deck as part of FARM Architects' conceptual design. Image credit
Nursing homes adopting a home-like model: Built to cater for Singapore’s ageing population, two new nursing homes are currently being built in West Coast and MacPherson with person-centric design.

Team: Assoc Prof Wee, with National University of Singapore, industry partners and seven community partners

Ascertain the value of rehabilitation for nursing home residents: Findings confirmed that the number and types of physiotherapy sessions are significant factors influencing important improvement in their physical functions.
Team: Prof Alan Wong, Cluster Director, and Assoc Prof Ong Peck Hoon, Health and Social Sciences, with NTUC Health

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