A new dialysis centre in Sembawang offers kidney patients more than just a shorter trip to get their regular treatments.
Under a trial, they get to use computer tablets and take part in exercises, all while seated in their chairs during their four-hour dialysis sessions.
San Wang Wu Ti-KDF Dialysis Centre in Admiralty Link - which was sponsored by San Wang Wu Ti Religious Society - was opened by Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF) on Wednesday (July 20).
It is equipped with 19 haemodiafiltration (HDF) machines, which can serve 114 patients at any one time.
HDF, an advanced form of dialysis, is gentler on the patient's body and reduces side effects of treatment such as blood pressure fluctuations and muscle wasting.
During their dialysis, patients will be provided with tablets packed with entertainment and educational resources such as digital health brochures, recipes and pre-recorded health webinars.
Specialists from fitness company Retrofit will also lead them in exercises meant to strengthen patients' muscles and reduce their risk of falls.
If the trial is successful, KDF may consider extending it to its other three centres in Bishan, Ghim Moh and Kreta Ayer.
Meanwhile, the foundation will work with the nearby Canberra Community Club to engage residents, providing them with complimentary health talks and encouraging them to participate in KDF's community outreach programmes.
Speaking at the centre's opening ceremony, KDF chairman Lim Cheok Peng said the location was chosen as KDF already has centres in the western and central regions, and there is a need to serve underprivileged kidney patients in the northern area of Singapore.
Its patients are those who earn the lowest 10 per cent of income in Singapore, more than half of whom have a monthly per capita income of no more than $1,000.
Dr Lim said: "KDF will continue to dedicate resources and knowledge to breach awareness gaps in society, lift the spirits of the ill and make a difference in the lives of those in need."
Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary, who was guest of honour at the opening, called end-stage renal disease a "growing nationwide concern", with about six people here diagnosed with kidney failure every day, up from four in 2011.
"We have to deal with this trend. We cannot wish it away, it is there, it is worrying, it is serious," he said, calling for a multi-pronged approach to tackle the disease.
Highlighting the importance of early intervention to prevent kidney failure, Dr Janil said that one of the key focuses of the Healthier SG strategy - unveiled earlier this year - is to enable primary care doctors to play a greater role in the management of chronic conditions.
But, noting that they alone will not be enough, Dr Janil said community healthcare providers like KDF will play an important role in Healthier SG too, as it has built up close relationships with patients and their families, and is an established, trusted partner of many community organisations.
One of the patients who will benefit from the new centre is 75-year-old housewife Zawiah Man, who first became a patient with KDF about 10 years ago.
Previously, her daughter, Ms Azzurra Abba, a 39-year-old patient care officer, had to take her on a 30-minute taxi ride thrice a week to the nearest dialysis centre in Bishan. The new centre is just a 10-minute taxi ride from the family's home in Yishun.
Ms Azzurra said: "We can now leave home a little bit later. It's accessible and convenient... (And) we can help my mother manage her condition better with more support materials (provided)."