June 2016 | Issue 24
New initiatives focus on quality of life for silver generation

 

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NTU and LKCMedicine senior management join Guest-of-Honour Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong (centre) to launch two new initiatives that focus on quality of life for the silver generation


On 6 May, NTU launched the Ageing Research Institute for Society and Education (ARISE) and Centre for Population Health Sciences (CePHaS) to provide solutions to the health and lifestyle challenges faced by Singapore’s ageing population.

The launch, held at the Collaboration Space at LKCMedicine’s Experimental Medicine Building, was graced by Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong as Guest-of-Honour and was attended by an audience of more than 200 faculty and staff from NTU as well as partner organisations and collaborators.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Gan said, “Singapore is ageing rapidly. Between now and 2030, we will witness a most profound demographic shift. In 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 years or older compared with one in eight today.”

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Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong gives his address at the ARISE and CePHaS joint launch

He added, “While we address the worries of our seniors on one hand, I believe our society can thrive if we are able to find ways to unlock the creativity and talents of our senior population and to leverage on technology to enable our population to age well and maximise their health and longevity.”

By taking an integrated and multidisciplinary approach towards ageing research, NTU aims to address this problem and improve the quality of life for Singaporeans.

NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said, “NTU will develop quality research to enhance our understanding of how Singapore is evolving as a society, and find the most effective solutions to sustain vibrant and resilient families, and communities.”

At the event, Prof Andersson added, “ARISE and CePHaS will tap on NTU’s existing strengths in ageing-related research to address the challenges in our society.”

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NTU President Prof Bertil Andersson speaks about NTU's ambitions to provide solutions to the health and lifestyle challenges faced by Singapore's ageing population

The newly launched CePHaS, which is led by experts from LKCMedicine and supported by various healthcare and government agencies including the National Healthcare Group (NHG), will focus on fresh healthcare approaches such as developing smartphone apps to manage chronic diseases as well as address healthcare issues.

Commonly known as digital health (or eHealth), some of these apps could also be part of a doctor’s prescription to help patients better manage their symptoms and recovery using the convenience of smartphones.

Associate Professor Josip Car, CePHaS Director and LKCMedicine Associate Professor of Health Services and Outcomes Research, said, “The new centre will explore new ways of providing care, challenging the conventions of who, how, where and when care is provided to drive innovations that ensure care is accessible and affordable, leading to improved population health.”

Another focus of the centre is end-of-life care and support – an area that is often neglected. Individuals, families and societies need to be well prepared so that they can better care for loved ones during and beyond their final years of life.

LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best said at the event, “Helping people to die well is just as important as helping people to live well. Supporting people and their families through end-of-life care is an incredibly important part of the healthcare system. It’s one we don’t talk about a lot, because it is not a comfortable subject, but it is incredibly important. It is very important that as doctors and health professionals, we support our patients and their families right through their lives and particularly at the end of their lives. So CePHaS is going to play a major role in assessing the current state of the facilities that assist people at the end of their lives and in being able to support people to live out their lives and particularly the end of their life, whether that is at home or in a hospice.”  

CePHaS will also work with ARISE, which will study ways that older people can stay healthy through disease prevention, treatment and management, in addition to encouraging an active lifestyle and promoting lifelong learning. Through the new institute, NTU will drive technological innovations aimed at improving quality of life. As a multidisciplinary institute, ARISE will bring together the strengths of NTU’s schools and research centres, including LKCMedicine.

At the event, ARISE also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Geriatrics and Active Ageing (IGA). Signed by NTU Chief of Staff and Vice-President for Research Professor Lam Khin Yong representing ARISE and IGA Director and LKCMedicine Assistant Dean for Integrated Care Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih, the MOU charts the way for close collaboration between the two institutes. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Mr Gan, Prof Andersson and NHG Deputy Group CEO for Education & Research and Group Chief Research Officer Associate Professor Lim Tock Han.

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NTU Chief of Staff and Vice-President for Research Professor Lam Khin Yong (left) and Institute of Geriatrics and Active Ageing Director Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih (right) sign the MOU

Alongside the main programme, guests had the opportunity to tour a special exhibition showcasing NTU’s research capabilities and products in related areas. The university also hosted the finals of the inaugural Singapore Inter-Generational National Games (SING), which engaged older people and students in exergames – a combination of exercise and video/digital games.

In conjunction with the launch of the two new initiatives, NTU also hosted a public lecture on “Population Health and Ageing”. The lecture featured two eminent scholars in the domains of public health and gerontology – Co-founder of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Tokyo Professor Hiroko Akiyama and Chair of Neurology at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London Professor Lefkos Middleton, and was hosted by Assoc Prof Chin. During the lecture, speakers addressed the medical, psychosocial and economic issues brought about by changing population health demands and ageing populations.

To read more about the announcement and ARISE, please click here.