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2021-09-06 02:47:00


Despite the uncertainty, NTUC Health staff put their hearts and minds to pick up new skills and learnt how to use digital channels to develop online versions of some of their care services and programmes to continue serving their clients.

Caption: Seniors enjoy an Immersive Room session at NTUC Health’s Day Centre for Seniors (Geylang East)

This story was first published in NTUC Health's staff portal on 25 June 2021.

74-year-old Mr Poo Chee Chiang was initially resistant towards technology, afraid of clicking on the wrong button when using banking apps. But with support from his son and staff at NTUC Health’s Active Ageing Hub (Kampung Admiralty), Mr Poo began taking courses to learn how to use smartphone apps. In the spirit of agelessness and willingness to learn, he successfully embraced the use of digital tools and now finds joy in using Zoom, DBS PayLah and Whatsapp to video call his family and share photos of his favourite paintings.

"If you don't take the first step out of your comfort zone, you will not make any progress," Mr. Poo said.

In some ways, Mr Poo’s journey is a reflection of that of many of NTUC Health’s seniors’ and also that of NTUC Health. With safe distancing measures and centres having to close due to the Circuit Breaker, adapting to the use of technology was one of the few ways the team could continue to provide care for our seniors. Yet this was not without challenge. Many seniors were not familiar with digital technologies in the beginning, partly because there was not a compelling need for them to familiarise themselves with it previously.

Despite the uncertainty, NTUC Health staff put their hearts and minds to pick up new skills and learnt how to use digital channels to develop online versions of some of their care services and programmes to continue serving their clients. At the Family Medicine Clinic and Day Rehab Centres, NTUC Health introduced tele-consults and tele-rehab services for clients who used to visit their doctors and therapists in person. For seniors at the nursing homes, video conferencing became their lifeline to see the familiar faces of their loved ones who were unable to visit during the pandemic.

Caption: Tele-consults and tele-rehab services go online.

As the use of technology became a big part of adapting to the pandemic, NTUC Health began to see its many advantages. Exploring it further showed how it had the potential to enrich the teams’ work and lives! Soon, seniors themselves realised that technology did not have to be intimidating or difficult, and became more open to picking up digital skills for use in their daily lives. Many of them signed up for workshops and watched tutorials we prepared to learn how to use Whatsapp, Facebook, Zoom, QR code scanners and other apps.

Caption: IMDA continues their Digital Silvers programme by hosting a digital skills workshop at Senior Activity Centre (Marsiling).

As seniors across NTUC Health took steps toward learning digital tools with the help of NTUC Health’s staff and volunteers, some of them even became content creators to showcase their talents and share their skills with other seniors.

Caption: Volunteers from Active Ageing Hubs also decided to try out vlogging, starring in their own instructional videos to guide fellow seniors centres through baking recipes and paper crafts. 

What was encouraging to see was that many of NTUC Health staff continued to build upon the lessons learnt through the pandemic. Over the past few months, NTUC Health staff not only implemented a wider range of online activities to provide care for our seniors, but also improved the way they were conducted, making the digital space engaging, safe and exciting for them.

Adapting to the use of technology during the pandemic showed that not only could NTUC Health continue with daily programming from our centres, but also gave team members that extra push to find ways to bring seniors beyond the centres. Through video live streams and Immersive Room technology, the seniors continued to fuel their sense of adventure by exploring Singapore’s heritage, even visiting places across borders.

Even before COVID-19, digital solutions have been part of NTUC Health’s efforts to improve client experience. For instance, the Immersive Room at Day Centre for Seniors (Geylang East) allows seniors to explore foreign landscapes such as Hong Kong, Penang, and even dive underwater with turtles.

Caption: During an Immersive Room Experience session featuring Perak, Malaysia, 81-year-old Mr Chia Tea Chiang from Day Centre for Seniors (Geylang East) shares his memories of the temple he had visited previously.

Physical open houses which NTUC Health used to run in 2019 were challenging to organise due to the changing COVID-19 regulations. One way the team tackled this uncertainty was to build 360 Virtual Tours of their centres. These tours allow the public to explore Day Centres for Seniors while eliminating the risk of the virus spreading in the facilities. A roving 360 camera was used to capture common spaces and facilities from every angle, and the images were stitched together to create a seamless experience of a walkthrough at NTUC Health centres. The virtual tours were also translated into Chinese for mandarin-speaking audiences.

Caption: Step into the lobbies, day spaces and rehab corners of our Day Centres for Seniors to get a feel of the freshly renovated facilities by exploring our new virtual tours page.

"Digitalisation has allowed us to continue supporting our clients, caregivers and community during the pandemic and to keep pace with the uncertainty of a New Normal. It is important that we continue to be responsive and open to what technology can do, not just to address existing gaps but to see how with increased adoption, we can help to further elevate the overall customer experience,” said Ms Clara Lee, Head of Corporate Communications and Branding at NTUC Health.

By going digital, NTUC Health found that they are still able to bridge the gaps between seniors and caretakers, while keeping pace with the demands of a pandemic-turned-endemic society. And just like Mr Poo, NTUC Health has stayed open to trying new things and to adopt technologies to stay relevant and connected. By leveraging on digital mediums and making sure they are readily accessible or easy to use, NTUC Health efficiently pivots to provide quality care, improve its service delivery and is ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.

This story has been adapted for length.

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