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Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd.

Winner: 2008 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Industry: Public Hospital/Health care
Location: Singapore

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

SingHealth’s approach to mature workers employs a “Silver Connection Consultant” who provides guidance on career transitions and management of older employees. In addition, a number of programs provide opportunities to upgrade skills and acquire new knowledge. SingHealth has also invested heavily in automation and mechanization to alleviate job-related physical demands, making work more suitable for older employees.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: SingHealth’s guiding philosophy is Renew, Refresh, Rewire, Not Retire. SingHealth hired a “Silver Connection Consultant” in 2006, an older worker, to run the agenda for older workers. The consultant has started one-on-one personal coaching for those who need guidance on career transition and management.

Older employees on the nursing staff also go through constant training by attending programs available throughout the year. These Skills Redevelopment Programs cover a wide spectrum of nursing specialties. Return-to-Nursing programs help enrolled and registered nurses who left the profession previously rejoin the workforce by updating their nursing knowledge and skills.

SingHealth also engages retirees for part time project work by giving refresher training and briefings. One example is computer training through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program’s Project Cyberguide. Employees may apply for “Learning Awards,” which provide funding for programs leading to some form of certification.

Flexible Work Arrangements: SinHealth conducted a study amongst older workers that showed a high percentage indicating that reduced or flexible work schedules were their top consideration for choosing to work into older age. Older workers can opt to work part time (3 or 4 days per week) or with flexible working hours.

One of Silver Connection’s key initiatives is Postnatal Home Care Service rendered by retired nurses at the homes of young parents, giving professional advice on infant care. Other flexible options include job sharing, telecommuting, temporary work for retirees, and highly customized employment contracts.

Health Promotion and Protection: To provide more effective work-life programs, SingHealth conducted WorkHealth Surveys, which helped assess how critical job-related and family and social characteristics affect staff’s psycho-social health.

SingHealth has invested heavily in automation and mechanization to alleviate the physical demands of jobs in the hospitals, thus making many jobs more suitable for mature workers than years ago. Lifters, fully motorized patient-transfer trolleys, and mobile armchairs with safety belts, greatly prevent back strains or injuries. The company also made available a “hiatus chair,” designed to relieve nurses from frequent picking up and rocking of babies and heavy children.

Automatic Guided Vehicles have allowed food trolleys to be sent to the wards without staff having to physically push the heavy trolleys.

The Division of Nursing has created job opportunities for retried nurses who are keen, able, and willing to explore other nursing duties, such as basic administrative tasks and patient-care support in the clinical environment. Many older workers are re-profiled as educators to help increase the level of clinical care.

Items such as magnifying glasses and slip-resistant safety shoes are also provided to staff. Special health screenings and health-care reimbursements are also made available and promoted to older staff. Recreational and healthy lifestyle activities are also organized for staff, including brisk walking, line dancing, focus group meetings for retirees, talks on active aging, nature walks, music at work, Tai Chi groups, family days, and other activities.

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