You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health Champion Structured Approach To Enhance Inter-Generational Interaction In Singapore

27 March 2017

Seniors are engaged and have a stronger sense of purpose; pre-schoolers learn empathy and compassion

Singapore, 27 March 2017 – NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health announced today their structured inter-generational programme to facilitate interaction between pre-schoolers and seniors. NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing was the guest-of-honour at the event.

An action research component is also embedded in this model. This is to enable NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health to better understand the intended benefits accrued, the challenges faced, and the potential recommendations for further enhancement to the programme.

The objectives of the structured inter-generational interactions are two-fold. First, it is to empower the seniors by enabling them to have a stronger sense of purpose through mentoring the children during the activities. Second, it is to inculcate in pre-schoolers values of empathy and compassion, and respect for the seniors.

Instead of just carrying out inter-generational activities in an ad hoc manner, focusing on festivals and celebrations, NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health have worked towards a more structured approach to develop a framework comprising three-tiers of interaction. They are the basic tier with ad hoc activities; intermediate tier with activities that are more regular; and advanced tier with a structured programme weaved into the childcare curriculum and eldercare daily activities.

Basic Intermediate Advanced
  • One-off or infrequent
  • Opportunistic
  • Informal partnerships
  • E.g., festive celebrations, non-regular events
  • Regular intervals
  • Each partner working autonomously
  • Can be short-term or long-term
  • E.g., birthday celebrations, monthly activities
  • Regular, intentionally planned
  • Activities worked into the childcare curriculum & senior centre’s schedule
  • Independent with partner empowerment
  • Aligned vision and purpose
  • Long-term
  • E.g., structured programme throughout the year


These three tiers are meant to cater to the varying capabilities and resources of the centres. Today, 14 sets of MFS centres and NTUC Health’s senior centres jointly offer at least one of the three tiers of the inter-generational programme. A list of centres is at Annex A.

Advanced tier
Leveraging on the advantage of co-location, MFS at Braddell Heights and NTUC Health Silver Circle (Serangoon Central) were selected to pilot the advanced tier of the programme last year. Open to all Kindergarten 1 and 2 children, as well as selected seniors who are more participative, the programme has seen pre-school teachers and eldercare staff working regular and structured activities into the pre-school curriculum and the senior centres’ weekly schedule. A list of the activities, which have been tested out as suitable for the “advanced” tier is at Annex B.

This differentiated and new approach to inter-generational interaction is a continuation of NTUC’s journey in childcare and eldercare, going beyond caring for the young and old to fostering greater bonding between young children and seniors. This is in line with NTUC social enterprises’ commitment to constantly innovate in the social space to better serve emerging needs of the Singapore society.

Contributing factors to the success of the programme
There are three factors that favour the success of the inter-generational programme: the close collaboration of the NTUC Social Enterprises; dedicated and like-minded staff who support the inter-generational interaction efforts; and the advantage of co-location of childcare and senior centres.

Collaboration of NTUC Social Enterprises
As members of the NTUC group of social enterprises, NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health are focused on driving social outcomes, such as addressing concerns about “ageing” to enable the seniors to age-in-place. Led by the common focus to facilitate inter-generational interaction, both social enterprises committed themselves to investing resources, manpower and time to collaboratively develop and implement the programme in their centres.

“With smaller family units in Singapore becoming more prevalent, children now have limited opportunities to bond and interact with their own grandparents, much less with the seniors in our community,” Said Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chief Executive Officer of NTUC First Campus, “What is unique about our collaboration with NTUC Health is that we are not only bringing two generations together, but also engaging them with thoughtful programming and specially designed activities that bring about the best possible benefits for both the young and seniors. For our children, we believe that such meaningful interactions inculcate good values in them, which are important traits that the younger generation should possess amidst an increasingly ageing population.”

Dedicated and committed staff
The dedication and commitment of the staff in both NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health also contribute extensively to the good outcomes of the programme. The teachers and centre facilitators are able to engage both young and old in activities tailored to suit their needs and interests.

Mr Chua Song Khim, CEO of NTUC Health, said, “As we experience a rapidly ageing population, we also see an increasing prevalence of dementia in seniors. As our seniors participate in various activities within the inter-generational programme, their cognition and physical functions are strengthened. For many of them whose grandchildren have already grown up, this is also an opportunity for them to relive their nurturing experience as they interact with these preschoolers, while sharing life stories. This helps improve the seniors’ emotional health and gives them a stronger sense of purpose and dignity, enabling them to age successfully.”

Co-location of senior and childcare centres
The co-location of senior and childcare facilities better facilitates the success of the inter-generational programme. MFS@Braddell Heights and NTUC Health Silver Circle (Serangoon Central) are a case in point. They are situated just a stone’s throw away from each other on the ground level of Blk 264 Serangoon Central. Their proximity not only facilitates the regular weekly contact between seniors and children, but also enables the staff of the two centres to have regular face-to-face discussions to plan effective programmes.

Positive findings of action research
The initial findings of the action research on the “advanced tier” show that the inter-generational activities achieved the objectives of the programme. The children demonstrated varying degrees of learning in their ability and willingness to relate to seniors, and the seniors appeared to enjoy the sessions interacting with the children. Both seniors and parents of children have shared positive feedback about the benefits of the programme at Annex C.

Sample of activities ascertained to contain elements that appeal to both the seniors and pre-schoolers in the “advanced tier” of the inter-generational programme at MFS@Braddell Heights and Silver Circle (Serangoon Central).

Date (2016) Activity
January to February Chinese New Year Celebrations
Baking cookies
March Nyonya culture
Making ondeh ondeh
April Islamic culture
Making mosiac art frames
May Re-living old times
Dough play
June to July Singapore music cultural experience
August Mid-autumn Festival
Baking moon-cakes & making lanterns
September Familiar games
Playing Bingo with a twist
October “Deepavali craft
Designing diyas and drawing henna
November Grandparents’ Day
Seniors’ visit to My First Skool


Descriptions of some of the activities are in the Appendix


NTUC Health’s Senior Centres MFS Centre
Silver Circle (Jurong Central)
402 Jurong West St 42, #01-525. S(640402)
MFS at Blk 409 Jurong West Street 42, #01-899. S(640409)
Silver Circle (Marsiling)
172 Woodlands St 13, #01-303. S(730172)
MFS at Blk 197 Pasir Ris Street 12,
#01-102. S(510197)
Silver Circle (Punggol South)
571 Hougang St 51, #01-119. S(530571)
MFS at Blk 528 Hougang Avenue 6,
#01-237. S(530528)
Silver Circle (Toa Payoh)
169 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, #01-1052. S(310169)”
MFS at Blk 236 Toa Payoh Lorong 1,
#01-66. S(310236)


Intermediate Tier

Silver Circle (Ci Yuan)
Ci Yuan Community Club
51 Hougang Avenue 9, #03-01. S(538876)
MFS at Blk 677 Hougang Ave 8, #01-545. S(530677)
Silver Circle (Dakota Crescent)
62 Dakota Crescent, #01-315. S(390062)
MFS at Guillemard Crescent. S(390000)
Silver Circle (Dakota Crescent)
62 Dakota Crescent, #01-315. S(390062)
MFS at Blk 503 Bedok North Street 3, #01-78. S(460503)
Silver Circle (Fengshan)
91 Bedok North St 4, #01-1527. S(460091)
MFS at Blk 128 Geylang East Ave 1, #01-125. S(380128)
Silver Circle (Geylang East)
25 Geylang East Central S(389708)
MFS at Blk 137 Jalan Bukit Merah, #01-1380. S(160137)
Silver Circle (Henderson)
117 Bukit Merah View, #01-201. S(151117)
MFS at Blk 756 Jurong West Street 74, #01-68. S(640756)
SiverCOVE (Marsiling) (with activities planned to move on to the Advanced Tier)
180A Marsiling Road, #01-2208 Marsiling Heights. S(731180)
MFS at Blk 347 Woodlands Avenue 3, #01-109. S(730347)
Silver Circle (Henderson)
117 Bukit Merah View, #01-201. S(151117)
MFS at Blk 756 Jurong West Street 74, #01-68. S(640756)
Silver Circle (Taman Jurong)
349 Corporation Drive, #01-502. S(610349)
MFS at Blk 197D Boon Lay Drive, #01-113. S(644197)

Advanced Tier

Silver Circle (Taman Jurong)
349 Corporation Drive, #01-502. S(610349)
MFS at Blk 197D Boon Lay Drive, #01-113. S(644197)


Information Sheet


  • Mdm Ng Lai Sam, 72, guides the children during the activities and commends them on the good work done. “I enjoy meeting with children, and nurturing them,” said Mdm Ng. She would share with her family the activities she did with the children such as mooncake making, art and craft and singing. Her daughter, Valerie, said, “She feels happy and enjoys the sessions, and think that the children are adorable.”
  • Mr Michael Tay, 94, enjoys the inter-generational programme as he is able to hold the children in rapt attention when he tells them a story. Said his helper, Tekla, who accompanies him to the centre, “Gong gong (Mr Tay) is happy in the centre, but he is even happier when he spends time with the children.”
  • Mdm Wong Wai Fong, 90, was one of the first participants of the intergenerational programme since it started in February 2016. During the first phase of the programme, Mdm Wong enjoyed the interactions with the children and would engage them in playing with dough, teaching them to make the shape of a Chinese cuisine called “kok chai”. In return, Mdm Wong received lessons from the child on how to make a paper snail. Even though Mdm Wong speaks Cantonese, it did not create any communication barrier with the children. Mdm Wong’s daughter, Vera said, “My mother mentioned that the children came over to Silver Circle centre to do art and craft together with her, and she enjoys it.”
  • Mdm Maggie Tan, 86, is the most active participant among her peers in the inter-generational programme. She was constantly engaged with the children, assisting them with the activities, asking questions, encouraging them and praising them. Although Mdm Tan could not remember details of the programme due to dementia, she is nevertheless able to enjoy the process of the activities and displays joy when interacting with the children. She said, “Meeting children is great fun, I get to meet children of different characters and they ask different questions, give different ideas.”
  • Mr Chee Yow Lock, 87, is one of the newer participants in the inter-generational programme. He started his first session in February this year and enjoys the interactions with the children very much. Mr Chee would bring home the activity ideas to play with his 12 great-grandchildren. He said, “Seeing the children brings me a lot of joy, and they are very obedient. If only I can take part in this programme every day!”.



Learning values of empathy and compassion

Mdm Lua Shi Yunn shares on how her daughter has grown in more ways than one through the Intergenerational Programme.

When six-year-old Ying Tsi told her grandmother that she (the grandmother) was not old, she was tickled by the comment. After all, the latter was already 70 years old.

“She told her grandmother that next time, when Popo (grandmother) is old, she will take care of her. But now, as Popo can still walk and does not need a wheelchair, she is very healthy. Thus, Popo must take care of her,” said Mdm Lua Shi Yunn, repeating the conversation she overheard.

Mdm Lua also noticed the efforts made by her daughter back at home after participating in the programme. She applauded the programme as a ‘well-planned learning experience’ that imparts values at a young age.

“I think she is more caring and understanding after she started on this programme,” said Mdm Lua. Mdm Lua said that Ying Tsi would pour water for her grandparents and gave them massages every once in a while whenever they experience muscle aches. She felt that these are endearing actions and that her daughter has learnt much from the programme.

Forging a Closer Relationship Between Two Generations

Mdm Lee Ying Ying shares how the Intergenerational Programme helped her daughter to bond closer with her grandparents.

In the past, if you had asked Zhi Xin to perform in front of a crowd, the shy girl would probably shake her head in reluctance. Now, along with her younger brother, six-year-old Zhi Xin would put up performances for their grandparents and great-grandparents during festive occasions, a drastic change for the once extremely shy little girl.

“I think that whatever she learnt and performed in school, she can now perform in front of her grandparents, which makes them happy,” said Mdm Lee Ying Ying, housewife and mother of Zhi Xin.

Mdm Lee also shared that prior to the programme, her two children were unable to bond with their grandparents due to their shy and reserved nature. However, after Zhi Xin’s participation in the programme, she became less shy with the seniors and would also interact with them.

Zhi Xin is able to connect well with her grandparents because she speaks in Mandarin with them. This is the language she learnt at pre-school. In fact, due to the common language, she is able to bond with her grandparents over the Channel 8’s TV serial,梦想程式 (Dream Coder).

“All of them are couch potatoes. My daughter memorised all the characters in the show and will talk with her grandparents about it,” explained Mdm Lee with a laugh.