Community nursing services during the COVID-19 pandemic: the Singapore experience
Community nurses in Singapore support vulnerable older persons with chronic health condition(s). In the situation of scaled-down community health and social services during the COVID-19 outbreak, the community nursing team adopted measures for pandemic preparedness. This report is to share the Singapore General Hospital community nursing experience, preparation and transforming efforts during the pandemic. Team segregation, active screening and triage before visits and other precautionary measures were executed to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19. There was a shift from face-to-face to teleconsultation to meet the requirement of safe social-distancing. Community nursing teams continued to play an active role in supporting older persons during the pandemic, despite the challenges. Moving to the lockdown phase (‘circuit breaker’), teleconsultation, virtual meetings and integrated partnerships were essential to ensure healthcare accessibility and continuity of care. The experience gleaned was valuable to advance future community nursing services in the evolving healthcare landscape. Structured teleconsultation and technology advancement are useful to complement the service.
The Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) on the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on 31 December 2019 (WHO, 2020a). Singapore reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on 23 January 2020 (Ministry of Health (MOH), 2020a). The COVID-19 outbreak was subsequently declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020 (WHO, 2020b). As of 7 July 2020, the number of cases were approaching 11.5 million worldwide (WHO, 2020c). In Singapore as of 7 July 2020, there have been 45 140 COVID-19 cases, including 4112 (9.1%) active cases and 26 reported deaths (MOH, 2020b).
Singapore's experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak aided the government to take swift precautions, such as strong epidemiological surveillance, contact-tracing capacity and a strict hospital and home quarantine regimen for potentially infected patients (Heijmans, 2020).
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