“It’s a safe environment to practise independent living.”
52-year-old Kelvin Tan was referring to his experience at Ren Ci Hospital’s Short Stay Unit (SSU), where he was recuperating after a spinal injury required him to use a wheelchair. With the help of Ren Ci’s medical social worker, the former make-up artist will move into a one-room rental flat after his stay at SSU.
With the help of funding from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ren Ci is the first in the sector to offer the SSU programme in Singapore. This 80-bed pilot programme provides selected residents with a supportive environment to recuperate for up to six months before returning to the community.
The SSU helps those who require interim care. Typically, the residents are referred to the SSU by their hospitals. The hospital’s medical social workers would assess their eligibility and apply to AIC for admission.
Residents at the SSU fall into three broad groups. Those who:
● Lack short-term social support, such as people waiting for allocation into a Senior Group Home.
● Require extended rehabilitation to improve their physical function before going home – as in the case of Kelvin.
● Need to learn skills (such as using of continence aids) to remain independent at home.
During their stay, the care staff would first initiate a discussion with the residents to set up the course of care. A customised daily routine for each resident would then be set up. As much as possible, the team will keep to the usual routine at home. This is to help the residents get back on their feet easily when they return home.
If a resident requires rehabilitation, a personalised rehab programme can be customised for him or her. The nursing team is also on hand to help patients learn how to self-manage their medical conditions to remain independent after discharge. These educational sessions may be done one-on-one or in a group, depending on the patient’s medical conditions. In addition, medical social workers are there to counsel and to support the resident’s psychosocial needs.
After the patient is discharged, he or she will still continue to receive support as Ren Ci works with community partners to address any gaps, such as providing transport and meals. Residents who wish to return to use the rehabilitation services at the Senior Care Centre are welcome to do so. In fact, there are some who return to take part in the open art studio or even help out as volunteers.