Thursday, June 03, 2021

AAC and AACH: What Are They, And How Do They Benefit Your Clients?


You might have heard people talking about AAC and AACH since the Committee of Supply debate in March, and thought, “Ah, two more acronyms to remember.” But what exactly are they?

AAC refers to Active Ageing Centre, while AACH refers to Active Ageing Care Hub. These are not newly launched centres, but enhanced versions of existing Senior Activity Centres (SACs) and Senior Care Centres (SCCs) respectively.

What AAC/AACH is

Who AAC/AACH is for

Why we need AAC/AACH

- A drop-in social recreational centre that serves all seniors living within the neighbourhood

- Go-to point for all ageing services

- Seniors who are 60 years and above (Singaporeans and Permanent Residents) who require social support

- All profiles of seniors regardless of housing types and socioeconomic status

- By 2030, a quarter of senior population (aged 65 years old and above) is expected to live longer and healthier

- AACs/AACHs ensure every senior who needs to be supported receives required services to:

  • Age healthily
  • Get timely access to quality care
  • Contribute as they wish
  • Have strong social connections

The difference between them and their predecessors is that AAC/AACH ensures seniors receive the ABC suite of services.

What is the ABC suite of services?

Active Ageing for Well & Active Seniors

  • Link to Active Ageing programmes
  • Promote volunteerism or employment

Befriending & Buddying for Seniors with No or Limited Social Networks

  • Provide support to seniors through house visits and phone calls

Care & Support for Seniors with Needs

  • Provide information on relevant schemes, grants and support
  • Make referral for simple cases
  • Escalate and refer complex cases to other partners for detailed needs assessment

So what’s the difference between AAC and AACH?

The difference between AAC and AACH is that the latter will provide additional care services such as day care and community rehabilitation services for seniors who are more frail.

OK… What’s in it for Community Care professionals?

If you’re working in an SAC or SCC, your centre will likely transition into an AAC or AACH by 2024. The Ministry of Health announced during the Committee of Supply debate that 50 centres would come onboard to become AACs and AACHs each year.

By 2024, Singapore will have over 200 AACs and AACHs.

Since the initiative's inception from May 1, 52 centres have been onboarded so far.

We chatted with Ong Siew Chin, CEO of Blossom Seeds and George Teo,  Assistant Divisional Director, THK Elderly Services Division, from Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THKMC) on how the transition has been.

How long did the transition take and what did it entail?

Seniors and volunteers interacting during one of the active ageing activities at Blossom Seeds before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blossom Seeds: We started Community Befriending Programme in 2018 for socially isolated seniors. Since August 2018, we also run Active Ageing Programmes at the centre for seniors. This provides a platform for seniors of various races and religion and from different housing types to interact. We bring the home-based seniors to the centre, so that they are able to stay connected with the community. We are happy to onboard the enhanced model.

THKMC: Preparations to transit to AAC started on January 26, 2021. Seven meetings were held with the Centre Managers (CMs) and staff of our six AACs and Cluster Support Centres to produce the blueprint and detailed plans for our SACs to transition into AACs. On April 16, we conducted a division-wide 'soft launch' to educate and challenge the whole Elderly Services Division on the new model and philosophy of the AAC so that everyone is aligned to the new vision and are psychologically prepared for the new waves of changes that will come our way soon.

Did you face any difficulties during the transition? How did you overcome them?

Blossom Seeds: There were teething issues while setting up the users in the system and aligning the use of the tools. However, the team has been learning together and supporting one another in using the system. Communicating to the seniors under our care about the handing them over to another befriending team is likely to be the most difficult task in the transition. We have not relayed the news to the seniors yet as we are still familiarising ourselves with the system.

THKMC: Yes, we did face difficulties while transitioning. We hold regular communication sessions with the CMs to listen to their concerns and assure them that they will receive support from management and fellow colleagues. Breaking down big plans and targets into smaller and achievable steps also helped to reduce the stress and anxiety levels of the staff of AACs, as they could see and taste their small achievements while working towards an uncertain future with ambitious goals.

How do you think you can better serve the needs of your clients through AAC?

Blossom Seeds: The centre will be able to encourage the seniors to age actively and happily, regardless of race, religion or housing types. We also believe that by getting seniors to support one another, they will be able to age more meaningfully and gracefully.

THKMC staff and volunteers from Singtel engaging seniors and clients while teaching them how to use technology to stay connected.

THKMC: As an AAC, we will serve our clients through providing programmes that appeal to the needs and interests of the seniors. All seniors — regardless of income and educational status — need socialisation, are concerned about their physical and mental health, and wish to be able to contribute to the needs of others if they are still able to. AAC will provide that avenue for them. Secondly, by reaching out to the general senior population, we could identify, assess, and attend to seniors who have fallen through the cracks or who have unattended health and social needs. Lastly, an AAC could serve as a one-stop centre that seniors can depend on to obtain the help and support they need to live well in their own home and community.

The two centres were onboarded in May, but due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, they have yet to start on the full suite of activities. In the meantime, THKMC has established and publicised a hotline for each AAC to cater for the more immediate needs of seniors.

For more information on AAC/AACH, or to find one near your client's location, click here.

*Images taken before Phase 2 Heightened Alert.

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