Location: 820 Thomson Rd, 574623
To know the story of Assisi Hospice, we must take a step back into 1969, when the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Sisters moved by the needs of chronically ill patients, decided to further develop Mount Alvernia Hospital. A four-storey wing was added to provide a home for up to a hundred resident patients who were suffering from chronic illnesses and most of whom were in financial need. Khoo Block was officially opened on 25 March 1969, donated by Mr. Khoo Teck Puat in memory of his father Mr. Khoo Yang Tin.
In 1982, the Khoo Foundation provided further support to the Hospital by donating funds for renovations to enable the Sisters to offer respite care. The building came to be known as Assisi Home named after the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi. Two years later, it expanded into Hospice Care for cancer patients. Then in 1992, in response to increasing demands and needs; the Sisters took a bold decision to establish hospice care as a dedicated mission. Thus, Assisi Home & Hospice was set up, a separate and distinct institution which still maintains a closeness to Mount Alvernia Hospital, as both are members of the same FMDM family.
The FMDM Sisters vacated their convent and with further help from the Lee Foundation and Reuben RN Estate, refurbished it into a new hospice. Assisi Home & Hospice, was officially opened on April 1993 by the then President of Singapore, the late Mr Wee Kim Wee. Later that year, it discontinued the admission of long-term care patients, to focus on hospice care for terminally-ill cancer patients. In 2007, there was a name change to Assisi Hospice signifying commitment to its mission to serve those suffering and in need of end of life care. Recognising the needs of patients with conditions other than cancer but also needing care at the end of their lives, the Sisters decided to admit these patients as well.
Today, the hospice is managed by lay professionals who have stepped up to serve as the Board of Directors and management team. The FMDM Sisters are not far away as their love for staff, patients and their families keep them connected to the hospice. FMDM Sisters volunteer their time at the hospice in the day care centre, supporting events such as the Annual Assisi Charity Fun Day and the important function of fundraising as the Hospice is dependent on donations. Assisi Hospice is dependent on public funding for about two-thirds of its operating costs for its 3 services – Inpatient, Home Care and Day Care services. The rest is funded from subsidies through means testing by the Ministry of Health and from what families can afford to pay for the Hospice services.
Assisi Hospice seeks to relieve the suffering, both physical and emotional, of people with incurable diseases so that they can continue to live with dignity and comfort. It is also about supporting patients’ families through a challenging time. With compassionate care and the use of modern methods and technologies, a patient’s symptoms can be properly managed to make them as comfortable as possible to live life with dignity and peace.
In all of its services, the Hospice adopts an integrated approach that addresses the physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. It welcomes people of all faiths, age, race or financial position. No one will ever be denied care because of who they are or what they can afford.
Assisi Hospice continues its mission to provide compassionate and personalised palliative care to adults and children with life-limiting illnesses through its inpatient, home and day-care services. Works for a new hospice started in 2013. The purpose-built building will house 85 inpatient beds, a bigger Day-care Centre, specialised paediatric and dementia wards. Ready by end-2016, the new hospice is expected to support the community’s growing needs for hospice and palliative care.
A new chapter begins for the Assisi Hospice
On 10 January 2017, the Assisi Hospice moved to a newly-built six-storey building located at Thomson Road. Among the hospice’s new facilities are new wards for dementia palliative care and paediatric palliative care. The new hospice has capacity to serve more than 2,000 patients annually, with 85 beds as well as new and improved services for home care and day care that can serve twice as many patients as before.
The FMDM sisters who have worked tirelessly at the hospice have undoubtedly played a huge part in shaping a “Franciscan culture – one that involves doing whatever it takes to care for our vulnerable brothers and sisters”. At the official opening held on 1 December 2017, Archbishop William Goh prayed for the staff to be able to continue selflessly caring for their patients and that the work of the hospice would be an example for others in providing end of life care.