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Workshop on “Ageing and Demographic Change in Asia: Caring for the Rapidly Growing Number of Elders in our Society”

Monday, 26 February 2018 – Together with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Instutite organised a 2-day workshop on “Ageing and Demographic Change in Asia: Caring for the Rapidly Growing Number of Elders in our Society” which was held from 26th to 28th February 2018. The workshop brought together more than 80 thought leaders and policymakers from Singapore and around the region to share and discuss the current and future of ageing in East and Southeast Asia. Four areas were addressed: institutional-residential care, community-based care, education and training for care-givers, and active ageing.

From left to right: Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Dr Amy Khor, and Mr Shuichi Ohno (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Senior Minister of State for Health and Environment, Dr Amy Khor, was the Guest of Honour at the ISEAS-SPF workshop. In her keynote address, Dr Khor argued it is not enough to build and provide more care for the elderly, but there needs to be a transformation in care and the model of care. She said that Singapore is doing this by bringing care closer to seniors, by focusing on care effectiveness and person centric care, as well as looking into early interventions and the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Environment, delivering the keynote address (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Singapore’s 2018 budget announcement on measures to address the country’s ageing population needs also featured in the speeches at the opening of the workshop. Dr Khor mentioned about the nationwide expansion of the Community Networks for Seniors (CNS) programme. The CNS creates local “communities of care” by fostering strong partnerships across different stakeholders to sew up social and healthcare support for seniors with needs. You may find the transcript of Dr Amy Khor's speech here

Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institue, also touched on the expansion of the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) to encourage families to live with or live near their parents, and the consolidation of key services for seniors under one ministry. He reiterated that all these measures underscore Singapore’s efforts to foster a caring and cohesive society in the face of an ageing population. For Mr Choi Shing Kwok's Welcoming Remarks, please click here.

Welcoming Remarks by Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

This collaboration between ISEAS and SPF coincides with the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan relations. Mr Shuichi Ohno, President of Sasakawa Peace Foundation, spoke on the increasingly close ties that Japan share with ASEAN countries. This joint workshop is the first of several Sasakawa Peace Foundation events under its Asia Impact Dialogue (AID) series. Mr Ohno said that the AID is SPF’s commitment to provide a platform for dialogue to facilitate greater collaboration between Japan and ASEAN countries on common social-development issues, such as ageing, gender equality, and migration within and beyond borders. For Mr Shuichi Ohno's Opening Remarks, please click here.

Mr Shuichi Ohno, President of Sasakawa Peace Foundation at the opening session (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

An illustrious group of international and regional experts shared and discussed various topics of policy concern during the two days of panel discussions. They include representatives from international and regional organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, World Health Organization, and the ASEAN Foundation. In addition, government agencies, community organizations, and key stakeholders were also invited to contribute their perspective and experience. Key local stakeholders and community organizations involved in Singapore’s action plan for successful ageing also participated at the workshop

A workshop participant engaging with the panellists (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

The workshop participants during the panel discussions (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

The findings from the panel discussions were explored in breakout-working groups on the second day of the workshop to assess the current situation of ageing in the different countries, their ideal situation, and the policy and practical pathways to move forward in addressing the challenges of an rapidly ageing Asia. Issues discussed include the different ways and channels to link volunteers and community based organisations with the formal healthcare sector, the combination of geographical proximity of services along with the outsourcing of diverse services to various providers to promote financially sustainable care, the licensing of nursing homes to ensure standardization of care provision, strategies to identify seniors who are socially isolated, and the harnessing of artificial intelligence technologies to provide unobtrusive sensing in ageing-in-place ecosystems as well as other challenges of care for the elderly.

The workshop participants (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Tsao Foundation hosted a site visit to Whampoa ComSA (Community for Successful Ageing) for the participants on the third day of the workshop. The ComSA initiative is a showcase of Tsao Foundation’s efforts to bring about an integrated and sustainable health and social care system to the community of Whampoa estate. The participants interacted with both the elderly at the centre as well as the ComSA champions to learn how community action can support positive ageing for the elders, and fulfil their aspiration to age in place.

The participants visited the Whampoa ComSA and Whampoa estate on the third day of the workshop (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

For Media Coverage, click here.
For the transcript of Dr Amy Khor's speech, click here
For Mr Choi Shing Kwok's Welcoming Remarks, click here.
For Mr Shuichi Ohno's Opening Remarks, click here.
For more photos of the workshop, click here.