Home is where the heart is

Orange Valley in Simei

Orange Valley in Simei. The home prides itself on ensuring a sustainable living environment for its residents as well as developing employees’ skills to help them deliver a better service.

ENTERPRISE 50 2015

Home is where the heart is
Orange Valley’s winning focus on its residents, environment and employees has helped make it one of the top local nursing homes

The Business Times, Tuesday, 18 October 2016
BY CHUAH YIH HUI, TAN SUET YI, TAN ZHE REN AND TAY YI QING

FORMER COLONIAL army barracks, a mini-kampung nestled amid a modern residential enclave and an apartment building with a rooftop garden. What do these three have in common?

If you guessed “sites designated for enbloc sales”, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, these are nursing homes owned and operated by Singapore’s leading nursing home provider, Orange Valley Nursing Homes.

Orange Valley’s journey began in 1993 at 52/53 Biggin Hill Road where it humbly started with a mere 108 beds. Over the past 23 years, Orange Valley has grown steadily, expanding its operations across the island. The Biggin Hill site (also known as the Changi Branch), became one of the six homes offering a combined capacity of 1,013 beds.

2014 represented a year of change for Orange Valley as it welcomed new management after being acquired by private equity firm, KV Asia Capital. The winds of change brought about new organisational strategies alongside the crystallisation of Orange Valley’s guiding principle, condensed into the acronym C-L-A-S-S.
CLASS
Orange Valley aims to conduct themselves with CLASS, which translates to:

  • Care standards;
  • Living environment;
  • Augmentation of business;
  • Service;
  • Staff development and well-being

These five pillars holistically form the basis of Orange Valley’s commitment to its patients, the environment and employees.

Orange Valley’s client promise is reflected in its patient-care offerings. The term “Residents” is used to circumvent negative connotations associated with the word “patients”.

Orange Valley’s operating mantra, “Residents First” closely guides its service offerings. Understanding that each resident is different, this mantra is manifested in the provision of choices. For example, residents can choose from one of six concept homes that Orange Valley offers.

From the stylish and futuristic “business class” superwards in Marsiling, Clementi and Simei, to its rustic kampung home in Sims Avenue that is inspired by the zeitgeist of 1950s Singapore, each property offers its own unique charm.

Residents can opt for their preferred ward size, which ranges from between one and eight-bedder wards. When it comes to treatment, Orange Valley offers several “packaged” plans. If requested, Orange Valley also allows the customisation and creation of treatment plans whenever possible. Furthermore, a sense of autonomy is inculcated when residents are given the freedom of wearing their own clothes instead of a uniform.

By adopting a “residents first” attitude, says chief operating officer and group chief of nursing, Ms Lyn Edel Yip, “(Orange Valley aims) to build a home that residents want rather than just building a home for residents”.

Commitment to the environment
Orange Valley recognises that before it can provide value-added care to residents, it must first ensure that it takes care of the basic living environment. This means ensuring that there is proper sanitation, and that its homes are cleaned regularly.

Orange Valley’s commitment to residents goes beyond just providing a sanitised living environment, but extends into ensuring a sustainable ecosystem in almost every home. The Sims Avenue branch is testimony to Orange Valley’s commitment to maintaining a sustainable living environment. This branch boasts a thriving fruits and vegetable garden, a water feature and animal livestock – all collectively maintained by the residents, employees and volunteers of the home. Such an environment is largely self-sustainable where selected flora and food wastes are recycled into compost for the plants.

Ultimately, the beneficiaries are the residents and employees as they enjoy nutritional values of the organic fruits and vegetables served up in their meals.

Andy Tan, vice-president of operations at Orange Valley, describes the garden as one that “give(s) residents a sense of achievement” as it “is not built for them (residents)” but “built by them (residents)”.

This provides residents with an opportunity to “keep active” by discovering and developing their green fingers, and instils a sense of “purpose, pride and ownership” when their seedlings bloom.

By caring for the environment in its own unique way, Orange Valley affords its residents enhanced cognitive stimulation – over and above the run-of-the-mill activities that other nursing home providers engage in.

Commitment to employees
When one thinks of care for employees, the first that comes to mind may invariably be “remuneration and benefits”. While Orange Valley offers competitive remuneration packages, it also provides care for employees in a multitude of other aspects, for example, employees’ development and emotional health.

Mr Tan is a firm believer of lifelong learning and he puts a unique spin on how this should be achieved. When teaching employees a new skill, a quid-pro-quo approach is adopted, where he tells employees to teach him something in return for learning something from him.

The motivation behind this approach is Mr Tan’s desire to “educate foreign workers to bring back other skills other than pay” such that they are able to “influence (their communities) in a different way” when they return home.

Through this innovative learning exchange, Mr Tan believes that it will help to “gel (employees) together from their different cultures”, and provides the motivation for him to “go the extra mile” in creating a “small community” with a “care of interaction” for employees.

Other skills however, notably technical ones, require more professional guidance. One of the ways Orange Valley has addressed this is by employing a nurse clinician who shuttles between all six homes to conduct training sessions. These sessions are aimed at developing employees’ professional and technical skills to improve competencies and hence, value.

Employees’ emotional health are also not overlooked. Ms Yip makes it a point to take employees out for lunches. “You know, we don’t just talk about work, we also bond outside of work” says Ms Yip, as she recounts some of the conversations she has with employees. Through conversations with employees in the capacity of a friend rather than a superior, Ms Yip gets to understand her employees as individuals. As a result, employees know that no matter the issue – big or small, happy or sad – employees always have a listening ear, and a friend in Ms Yip.

Fruits of OVNH’s labour
Orange Valley’s three-fold holistic commitments to its patients, environment and employees has certainly been productive.

Describing patient satisfaction, Mr Tan recounts an experience involving a patient who, while on the waiting list of a voluntary welfare organisation’s (VWO) nursing home, was temporarily admitted into Orange Valley.

When the patient was subsequently transferred to a VWO, “he cried and request(ed) to a lot of places including his MP (Minister of Parliament) to come back to our home”.

The improvement in quality of Orange Valley as a result of its three commitments has not gone unnoticed. So impressive are the improvements that “the next thing is you see competitors starting to poach your people”, laments Mr Tan.

Excelling beyond commitments
While Orange Valley has done an excellent job in providing a commendable standard of care for its patients, it knows better than to rest on its laurels. To extend its services to different types of patients, it has been working to increase its patient care capabilities. Its Simei branch is now capable of providing nursing home care for tracheostomy tube patients – a capability that no other nursing home has yet obtained.

Embracing the technological age, Orange Valley has been quick to jump onto the bandwagon of innovation, particularly in areas that enhance patient care. It recently partnered Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and National University Health System to offer “tele-geriatric” and “tele-dental” care services respectively.

Doctors and dentists stationed at the hospitals are now able to conduct consultation sessions and prescribe treatments for residents of Orange Valley via video communication technology.

Collaborations with educational institutions ranging from kindergartens to polytechnics has brought smiles to residents. Students help organise activities and celebrations for residents on a long-term basis. The constant interactions with residents allow for strong relationships that ultimately contribute to their emotional and mental health.

Crowned with its staggering fourth place finish at the 2015 E50 awards, Orange Valley aims to build on this growth.

The coalescence of its care for residents, the environment and employees propel Orange Valley’s drive to become the first stop for elder care in Singapore.

Orange Valley has demonstrated that a home is, indeed, where the heart is.

  • The writers are students from NUS Business School.
  • This series is part of the Enterprise 50 Educational Project between the E50 partners and the NUS Business School. Orange Valley Nursing Homes was among the winners in 2015. The annual E50 ranking is co-organised by The Business Times and KPMG, sponsored by OCBC Bank, and supported by Spring Singapore, IE Singapore, Singapore Exchange and Singapore Business Federation.

Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction