Singapore, 12 December 2022 – The SingHealth Duke-NUS Supportive and Palliative Care Centre received a SG$6.35 million pledge from the Goh Foundation to transform supportive and palliative care. With government matching, it will potentially yield a total of SG$12.7 million which will go towards setting up the Goh Foundation Innovation in Supportive and Palliative Care (INSPiRE) Programme, to improve support for patients with serious illnesses and extend support earlier in the disease journey. Patients with cancer at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS) will be the first to benefit from the programme.
Significant advances in medical treatment have improved survivorship of people diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer and other chronic diseases. However, many face problems related to the disease and side effects of treatment. Supportive and palliative care complements cancer treatment by providing holistic care and support to patients.
While the benefits of palliative and supportive care are widely recognised, many living with serious illnesses do not access supportive and palliative care and those who do, tend to receive support late in their disease journey. According to the Singapore National Palliative Care Minimum Dataset, of the 22,000 deaths per year in Singapore, only about 40% received specialist palliative care services. For the 9,000 patients who were referred for supportive and palliative care between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, the median time of first referral to death was 11 days for acute hospital palliative care services, and 38 days for those who received home palliative care services.
“We hope that the Goh Foundation INSPiRE Programme, will improve access to supportive and palliative care in our community, so that patients are better supported as they deal with the challenges of living with cancer,” said Dr Tan Eng Liang, board member, Goh Foundation.
“Facing the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is distressing, we want to empower patients with cancer, so that they can make healthcare decisions according to their personal preferences. The Goh Foundation’s generous gift, will allow more patients to get the support they need, so that they are better equipped to cope with the physical, psychological and emotional burden of the disease,” said Professor William Hwang, Chief Executive Officer, NCCS.
Novel models of health coaching and bereavement support
INSPiRE will assess the effectiveness and implementation of a novel health coaching programme to support patients with cancer to live well. In line with the national Healthier SG initiative, the health coaching programme will shift cancer care to a more proactive approach, enabling patients to be effective managers of their own health and wellness, with support from dedicated health coaches. The health coaches will be integrated into the primary care teams, to ensure that coaching activities are aligned with the patient’s medical care. The health coaching programme will be offered to NCCS patients and their caregivers, so that they can develop coping skills such as problem-solving, navigating treatment decisions, communicating with loved ones and healthcare professionals, and symptom management.
“By educating and empowering patients, they can move from being passive recipients of health services, to being activated and informed partners in managing their healthcare needs. This will augment current provision of supportive and palliative care services to meet the rising needs of our population,” said Clinical Associate Professor Patricia Neo, Head, SingHealth Duke-NUS Supportive and Palliative Care Centre.
To enable mental and social wellness for individuals with life-threatening illnesses, INSPiRE will also assess the effectiveness and implementation of a more systematic and comprehensive model of bereavement care. This includes offering individual bereavement counselling, group therapy sessions and practical assistance such as return to work support for bereaved spouses and interim childcare support for young children.
To ensure the delivery of high value care, INSPiRE will also set up a supportive and palliative care database to track patient-centred outcomes and drive health services research.
“We will use INSPiRE’s database to guide research that will further inform and improve supportive and palliative care programmes," said Assistant Professor Grace Yang, Director of Research, SingHealth Duke-NUS Supportive and Palliative Care Centre.
A Professorship in Supportive and Palliative Care and an Academic Fund will also be established to enable research, innovation, education and training in the field, to improve the quality of life of patients with advanced serious illnesses and their families.
For more information, please contact:
Ms Dharshini Subbiah
National Cancer Centre Singapore
About SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre
The SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) draws on the collective strengths of SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School to provide our patients and community with the best outcomes and experience.
By leveraging the synergies in clinical care, research and education created through our Academic Clinical Programmes, Disease Centres and Joint Institutes, the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC fosters the exchange of scientific knowledge and clinical perspectives to accelerate innovation and new discoveries, advance the practice of medicine as well as nurture the next generation of healthcare professionals.
SingHealth delivers comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and integrated care across a network of acute hospitals, national specialty centres, polyclinics and community hospitals. Offering over 40 clinical specialties, SingHealth is Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster.
Duke-NUS, Singapore’s flagship graduate-entry medical school, nurtures ‘Clinician Plus’ graduates to become leaders in the global healthcare and biomedical ecosystem, while scientists from its five Signature Research Programmes and nine Centres transform medicine and improve lives in Asia and beyond.
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About the National Cancer Centre Singapore
The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is a leading national and regional tertiary cancer centre with specialists who are experts in treating cancer. NCCS attends to the majority of cancer cases in Singapore’s public healthcare sector. In addition to offering holistic and multidisciplinary oncology care, our clinicians and scientists collaborate with local and international partners to conduct robust, cutting-edge clinical and translational research. To achieve the vision of being a global leading cancer centre, NCCS offers world class care and shares its depth of experience and expertise by training local and overseas medical professionals.
To meet growing needs, the new NCCS building with increased capacity and expanded facilities dedicated to cancer care, rehabilitation, research and education will be operational in 2023. To give patients the best treatment outcomes, NCCS will offer access to advanced and innovative treatment such as proton therapy at the new Goh Cheng Liang Proton Therapy Centre.
For more information, please visit: www.nccs.com.sg