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SINGAPORE UNIVERSITY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES LEAPFROGS INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN GERONTOLOGY FOR SINGAPORE AND ASIA

by | May 29, 2023 | EDUCATION | 0 comments

Photo Credit – Lifestylememory from Freepik

Inaugural SUSS Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival at World Ageing Festival and multiple initiatives to boost age inclusivity and eldercare.

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) has launched the inaugural Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival and multiple age-inclusive initiatives with local and regional partners to boost healthy and successful ageing and harness the longevity market, as Singapore is set to turn ‘super-aged’ in 2026. 

The growing number of seniors is a defining issue and opportunity of current times. Total healthcare and social costs of the elderly in Singapore are projected to rise tenfold over the next 15 years to USD49 billion annually. By 2030, Singapore’s silver generation is projected to spend nearly USD150 billion. It presents a huge market opportunity for Singapore to develop technologies to boost age inclusivity and assisted and institutionalised care.

 In light of the silver future, the university has launched the SUSS Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival at the World Ageing Festival to discover and nurture high-potential innovations to develop the gerontology sector. It is a key initiative rolled out under the Ngee Ann Kongsi (NAK) Social Impact Hub and established through SUSS with a SGD10 million donation to the university. 

The festival will host the Ageing Startup Pitch Stadium for Gerontology-focused startups and showcase next-generation Geronpreneurship solutions and strategies with SUSS partners, covering cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of the elderly. It represents a culmination of SUSS’ suite of latest programmes, including SUSS’ Impact Startup Challenge and Venture Builder Programme, to develop and groom student entrepreneurs in the gerontology sector.

Professor Tan Tai Yong, SUSS President, said, “SUSS has a decade-long involvement in the gerontology space and this has stood us in good stead with our government, community and industry partners in Singapore and the region. We are honoured by their trust and will continue to bring in the best knowledge, initiatives, innovations and partnerships to advance the gerontology sector in Singapore. There is strength in numbers – I urge more donors, corporates and volunteers to be a part of this ecosystem to accelerate our age-inclusive reality.”

In addition, SUSS is driving and imparting notable best practices, research and standards of eldercare with government, corporate and academic, and community partners in Singapore and the region.

A key initiative that SUSS has launched is its collaboration with the World Health Organisation for Community Health Services to train a pioneer batch of 40 assessors in Singapore in the application of the WHO Integrated Care Assessment for Older People (ICOPE) to provide a person-centred health and social care approach towards optimising the functional abilities of seniors. Through the framework, healthcare and social workers, and caregivers are equipped to screen older persons at risk of care dependency in the community and recommend personalised care plans for them. This can help prevent, slow down or reverse declines in the physical and mental capacities of older people, to boost Singapore’s ‘Healthier SG’ national preventive care strategy for an ageing population.

“The WHO ICOPE framework is easy to understand and relevant in a preventive healthcare approach. Through our practicum, administered through SUSS, we found that it is very person-centred and an empowering tool for older adults to take charge in crafting their own and even their family members’ personalised care plans. Family and friends can also be part of their care journey, supporting and referring them to appropriate community resources,” said Ms Elizabeth Teo, 52, SUSS Master of Gerontology student, a pioneer WHO ICOPE assessor in Singapore and District Councillor (Northeast CDC).

As the first university to pioneer Gerontology studies in Singapore, SUSS offers a stackable series of Gerontology programmes for anyone interested from learning to practising in the sector. They range from a Graduate Certificate and Diploma to a Master and PhD in Gerontology. The university also offers a Minor in Applied Ageing Studies to its undergraduate students. Over 400 SUSS Gerontology students and alumni are creating impact in the community today, realising the university’s social mission through equipping individuals with continuous applied knowledge and skills to chart their own paths and contribute to the silver industry in Singapore.

“SUSS’ Gerontology programme has enabled me to carve out a new and rewarding journey to impact the lives of those living with dementia and their family caregivers. It is packed with practice-based knowledge taught by faculty who are leading gerontologists themselves. Many of my classmates and lecturers are also key collaborators and supporters of the work and cause that I am championing today – the network is its net worth,” said Mr Daniel Lim, 43, SUSS Master of Gerontology student, who co-founded Enable Asia, a first-in-Singapore-and-Asia platform, to enable people with dementia to live a life of dignity and grace, while providing support to their family caregivers through art, design and technology.

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