NUS, Washington University jointly open new research institute to address social challenges

Leading experts and gerontologists from Asia and the United States to meet and discuss issues relating to ageing-in-place and older adults at the Institute's inaugural conference

The National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has partnered the Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) to set up a dedicated research institute - the Next Age Institute (NAI) - to study, design and test social innovations to address complex social issues surrounding families, communities and societies in Singapore and around the world. Dr Amy Khor, Singapore Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, graced the official launch ceremony as the Guest-of-Honour. The event was held this morning at the NUS University Town.

The new NAI will be helmed by Associate Professor Chia Ngee Choon and Associate Professor Corinne Ghoh from the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Professor Michael Sherraden from WUSTL, who is also the S R Nathan Professor at the NUS Department of Social Work. Please refer to the Annex for their profiles.

Assoc Prof Chia, NAI co-Director (NUS), said, "Our years of good working relationship with the Washington University in St. Louis spanned more than two decades. Today, we are delighted to further strengthen our collaboration and friendship with WUSTL through the NAI, which will bring together multidisciplinary and international expertise of both universities to find innovative solutions to address complex issues relating to ageing and caregiving. NAI will also promote knowledge exchange and learning opportunities between faculty members and students of both universities. We hope that the work of NAI will benefit communities in Singapore, the US and beyond."

Added Assoc Prof Ghoh, NAI co-Director (NUS), "Singapore is one of the fastest ageing countries in the world and we can expect the number of seniors above 65 years old in Singapore to increase threefold by 2030. Societies like ours will face social and economic issues of longevity. The establishment of NAI is therefore timely and necessary to look into this complex social phenomenon. By embarking on research in both Singapore and the United States, NAI can compare strategies, test bed solutions and inform policy innovations in Asia and the West."

Professor Michael Sherraden, NAI Director (WUSTL) said, "Washington University in St. Louis is very pleased to begin the Next Age Institute (NAI) partnership with the National University of Singapore. In the coming years, NAI will focus on social innovations that can address large issues in 21st century societies, including aging, globalised labour markets, and rising inequality. We will learn from each other, and from other countries around the world."

Transdisciplinary approach to address complex issues relating to ageing

Researchers at NAI will seek to address the challenges and opportunities presented by trends such as the changing global context-ageing populations, globalisation of markets, rising inequality, and the advent of information technologies.

It will embrace a transdisciplinary approach involving different disciplines of study, including social work, economics, social sciences, law, nursing, medicine, public health, engineering and architecture, in its research and social innovation projects. NAI will also work together with policy makers, professionals in respective fields of practice, healthcare and social service providers, to enhance deliberations and ideas in social innovation and work towards deriving solutions which will be creative, robust and rigorous.

Pilot study on transition of care for older persons from acute to post-acute care services

NAI's first project is a collaborative effort with the Centre for Social Development Asia at the NUS Department of Social Work, where it will be working in partnership with three restructured hospitals in Singapore - namely, Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital - to pilot test a research on transition of care for older persons from acute to post-acute care services. The pilot study will commence in the second half of the year for some 30 families. In this study, a multidisciplinary team of researchers in NUS from disciplines including economics, social work, public health, geography and business will work with the hospitals. The pilot study aims to examine the feasibility of conducting a prospective, longitudinal study that traces the pathways of formal and informal care support for older persons and their family members over a 12-month period. The researchers will review the findings and direct the second phase of the research.

The research from the longitudinal study will throw some light on findings such as the pattern of care pathways of older patients discharged from inpatient care, their needs, and the support available. These are the fundamental information which researchers have to ascertain before more research can be conducted to answer the question of service efficacy, effectiveness and cost issues. The findings will be shared and disseminated. Discussions and consultations will be held with policy makers and stakeholders.

NAI will also be embarking on other research projects, which include examining alternative options for financing retirement needs of home-owning elderly in Singapore, and contributing to deliberations on pensions and retirement at the upcoming 2015 Singapore Economic Review Conference which will be held in August 2015.

Besides spearheading research projects conducted by NUS and WUSTL faculty and graduate students, NAI will also organise and support outreach events to engage public and private stakeholders in the development of social innovation and practice.

Leading gerontologists from Asia and US discuss ageing issues in two-day conference held in Singapore

In conjunction with the launch, NAI is holding an inaugural conference titled "Older Adults in Community: Capacities and Engagement for Ageing-in-Place" on 23 and 24 February 2015. More than 250 policy makers, academics, students, healthcare and social service providers attended the opening of the conference today. During the conference, experts and leading gerontologists from Asia and the United States will be discussing issues related to ageing in place, including family care-giving, social support and social services, care environment and social engagement of older adults.

Source: National University of Singapore


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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