In May this year, SUSS Gerontology students, faculty, and alumni made their way to Beijing for their study trip. The trip involved the exchanges with professors, students and practitioners of the senior-care industry in Beijing and visits to the diverse senior-related institutions.
They also attended the 15th China Symposium on Gerontology Construction held at Renmin University of China where one of the students, Sng Hock Lin, who presented topics on Singapore's gerontology landscape.
We spoke with Hock Lin (pictured left above) to learn more about his experience at this study trip.
The general needs are quite similar such as seniors’ welfare, smart seniors care, active ageing, and home care versus elder day care. Due to the vastness of the country and the large population size, China faces a more complex set of ageing issues such as the needs of the aged living in urban versus rural areas.
We could definitely learn a lot from China’s richer experience and their established gerontology programme, which has been around for over 15 years.
For SUSS, the Gerontology programme could explore organising an annual or biennial conference for students, academia and industry partners of seniors care industry to network and share knowledge. It is in line with SUSS’s 3H (Head, Heart, Habit) learning philosophy, to apply what we learn to serve society.
For the senior citizens in Singapore, we could learn how China is using technology to help this group of people. Instead of blindly using technology, it should be people-centric, ethical and sustainable. The other aspect that we could learn from China is the multifaceted business models they use to run centres and homes to address the diverse needs of the different groups of the elderly in the country. We could also adapt some of their research findings to the local scenarios.
There were many takeaways from the study trip. It was an enriching and eye-opening experience for the SUSS entourage. Personally, our visit to Wen Xen Yuan, a nursing home for mentally-challenged seniors, tugged at my heartstrings.
I was heartened by the selflessness of the director, who left her high-flying job as a Chief Financial Officer in the corporate world to answer a higher calling. The atmosphere of the home was like a big loving family, filled with compassion and warmth. Before we left the centre, one of the residents gave a touching speech to thank us for our visit, and to express the residents’ appreciation to the director and staff for treating them like family members. It was heartwarming!