SINGAPORE — In five years’ time, patients in the central region will have access to a new 500-bed community facility offering a full range of rehabilitation facilities and palliative care services.
The Integrated Care Hub, which had its groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday (March 21), is expected to officially open in 2022. It will serve patients with complex needs such as brain and spinal cord injuries or stroke, as well as those recovering from acute illnesses who no longer need active care from acute hospital specialists.
The facility, to be managed by Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), will be connected to the main hospital building via a bridge. It will be part of the 17-hectare HealthCity Novena, slated to be Singapore’s largest healthcare complex when it is completed by 2030.
At the Integrated Care Hub, there will be advanced equipment such as robotics and games-based therapy technology.
Virtual reality programmes will also be available to patients undergoing rehabilitation.
To help patients adjust back to their daily routines after discharge, rehabilitative therapy may be done in simulated spaces such as a bus-stop and a mock-up of a typical home.
Former TTSH patient Matthew Tan, 23, a pastoral care officer who previously underwent rehabilitation for a brain injury, said that new services such as games-based therapy would be helpful to patients recovering from traumatic injuries.
“Even now, I play games and table tennis to help stimulate my brain. The simulated environment is also useful because, eventually, patients will need to learn how to manage in the real world.”
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said at the ceremony on Monday that the hub is set to contribute to Singapore’s shift from hospital-based care to community care. On the facility’s chosen location, she pointed out that the central region has a higher proportion of seniors compared with the rest of Singapore.
Associate Professor Thomas Lew, chairman of TTSH’s medical board, noted that for many years, the hospital has partnered Ren Ci Hospital and other intermediate-care partners to help patients transit from hospital care to community care.
“There is now a need for additional sub-acute beds and a second community hospital to benefit more recovering patients in central Singapore,” he said, adding that the TTSH Rehabilitation Centre will be relocated from its present site at Ang Mo Kio to the new Integrated Care Hub.
Dr Khor said that the TTSH centre would serve patients with functional impairments, including those with higher intensity, more complex rehabilitation needs. Dover Park Hospice will also be moving to the hub to provide palliative-care services.
Dr Khor also said that there is a need for more new and innovative care models to support patients recovering at home.
She raised the example of the National Healthcare Group and TTSH, which have worked with other public hospitals to develop a national “hospital-to-home” programme for patients. This is to allow patients to receive customised services at home, including a mix of nursing, rehabilitative and psycho-social care.