Savonia Article: FUGA project – Promoting cooperation in Singapore
FUGA, Future of Remote Therapy project, is a project coordinated by Turku University of Applied Sciences and funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland’s, Asia Programme administered by the Finnish National Agency of Education. Other participants in the project are Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Singapore Institute of Technology and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The project period is 5.10.2020 –31.12.2022. The aim of the project is to develop a virtual course focused on remote therapy. Funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland covers the costs for expert visits between the countries. The actual planning, piloting and further development of the project is carried out through each organization’s own working time contribution. The actors in the project represent both physiotherapy and occupational therapy professionals, as well as experts in project management.
From the beginning of the project, the project work has been implemented through online meetings, webinars and discussions. One of the planned visits between Finland and Singapore had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual development of the course started immediately at the end of 2020 and the development work continued in the spring of 2021, when the first students piloted the course and gave feedback on its content and learning assignments. Based on the feedback, the course was further developed, and a student pilot was implemented again in the spring of 2022, when eight students took the course.
In May 2022, it was possible to meet on site in Singapore. The main purpose of the visit was, firstly, to meet project participants face-to-face for the first time, to promote the activities in the project and to get acquainted with the rehabilitation system in Singapore. Along the way, we got to visit the Singapore Institute of Technology campus and the experts working there in the fields of rehabilitation, internationalization, and technology. The discussions opened opportunities for the future cooperation through areas of common interest, such as the prevention of falls and active aging.
Field visits in Singapore
The field visits in Singapore highlighted the implementation of rehabilitation with different client groups. We visited to the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), which is a local charity organization helping people with disabilities. It is set up to support different aged people with a variety of disabilities. The organization wants to maximize the potential of people with disabilities and integrate them into society. They provide learning support activities for children with developmental disabilities, individual rehabilitation services to, for example, return to work.
The TechAble Assistive Technology Center in Enabling Village is both a community and a space where a group of individuals and organizations work together to promote people with different abilities. Their goal is to make Enabling Village a place where people with different disabilities can move independently, where they can feel accepted as they are and gain recognition for their skills. The community is built to be accessible and functional. There is also Tech Able, whose aim is to increase awareness of assistive devices, e.g., providing opportunities to experimentwith different assistive devices and to promote the uptake and benefits of assistive devices in different aspects of people’s lives. In addition, they develop tools that are user driven.
The National Heart Center, which focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of heart disease patients in Singapore, was one of our site visits. They offered rehabilitation for cardiac patients as in-patient and out-patient modes. Because all of Singapore’s cardiac rehabilitation is performed in the same unit, it is easy for rehabilitation professionals to specialize in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation was carried out individually in accordance with evidence-based knowledge and in rehabilitation, for example, special attention was paid to frail patients both pre- and postoperatively.
We also visited the day care center for the elderly at NTUC Health. NTUC Health is a social enterprise that provides a comprehensive and integrated range of quality and affordable health care and care for the elderly. They strive to meet the growing needs of families and their dependents. With more than four decades of experience and expertise, NTUC Health is one of Singapore’s largest providers of day care, nursing homes and home care for the elderly. In addition, they provide other services for seniors, such as active aging centers, senior activity centers, community support for vulnerable seniors, and sheltered senior homes. They also have a chain of dental clinics and a family doctor’s office. They offer opportunities for active participation for older people living nearby, such as gymnastics, craft groups or the opportunity to play board games. In their activities, they strive to bring happiness, dignity and peace of mind to individuals and families by providing sufficiently reliable care for the elderly and their loved ones.
The FUGA project will continue until the autumn of 2022. At this stage, the focus will be on the implementation of the developed course in the future, the development of new project ideas and the continuation of cooperation.
Marja Äijö PhD, Principal lecturer, Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Sanna Sihvonen PhD, Principal lecturer, Jamk University of Applied Sciences
Niina Katajapuu PhD, Senior lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences