"I know what it is to grow old, and I feel deeply the desperation of those who face old age alone, who cannot get to a doctor, and whose families cannot or do not know how to care for them. The pain of poor health is so much worse when you are old and frail."

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun


In her lifetime, Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun was an exemplary daughter, wife, mother and daughter-in-law. Within the ambit of those traditional roles, she embraced a progressive outlook which encouraged inquiry, critical thinking and openness to new solutions – values that enabled her to be her husband’s confidante, an entrepreneur in her own right, and a socially engaged senior as she grew older.

Having lived among older relatives to whom she was also caregiver, she empathised deeply with those growing old with little recourse to help. At age 86, in honour of her father and father-in-law, she established the Tsao Foundation in Singapore to enhance the quality of life of the older person.

Her concern for under-resourced seniors was matched by an acute insight into the common aspirations of every person to age at home, in the community among friends and family, and to have information, choice and the exercise of self-determination.

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun’s views and goals are embodied in the Foundation’s activities under the leadership of her grand-daughter, Dr Mary Ann Tsao. Over the last 18 years, Tsao Foundation and its Hua Mei community-based health and social services have earned a reputation for their elder-centric services and programmes, and for distinguished standards of innovation, practice and collaboration in aged care.

For her service and dedication to seniors, Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun was honoured at a global conference sponsored by the United Nations in Montreal, in September 1999. The occasion was the first UN Year of the Older Person – she was 94.

Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun passed away in 2001, but her vision and values live on as the Foundation’s enduring guide.




  • Tsao Foundation was founded by Mrs Tsao-Ng Yu Shun to enable older persons to have better quality of life, and live in dignity, as masters of their own destiny. She was 87 then.
  • Hua Mei Mobile Clinic was established, the first service in Singapore dedicated to delivering medical and socio-emotional care to homebound frail elders in the community.


  • Training and Education Division was set up to build capacity in the ageing sector for professionals, caregivers and volunteers, as well as promote successful ageing for individuals. One of the earliest training portfolios to be introduced by the academy was Dementia Care, which was brought to the public through public forums, community talks, media engagement and various other training modules.
  • The ‘Gift of Light’ programme was initiated to deliver health and medical services to seniors and their families, such as free eye screening. 
  • Set up the Tsao Ng Yu Shun Health Scholarship to enable health professionals in geriatrics to pursue a ‘Master’ programme.
  • Tsao Foundation organised its first Chinese New Year lunch, especially for frail, isolated, and financially challenged elders in the care of Hua Mei Clinic – the tradition continues today.
  • In its early work with dementia, Tsao Foundation held a series of talks, a forum and an exhibition titled ‘Forget Me Not’ to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day.
  • Established Hua Mei Seniors Clinic as Singapore’s first outpatient clinic dedicated to providing primary healthcare to adults above 40 years old. Now renamed Hua Mei Clinic, the elder-friendly clinic supports a life course approach to successful ageing, and promotes ageing in the community.
  • Set up Hua Mei Acupuncture and TCM Centre to offer complementary treatment for a variety of diseases and chronic conditions, in accordance with WHO principles.
  • Distinguished Scholars – The renowned Dr Robert N. Butler, President and CEO, International Longevity Center-USA (ILC-USA) and Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development, at Mount Sinai Medical Center, USA, was keynote speaker at the launch of the Foundation’s Distinguished Scholars’ Programme. 
  • The Interagency Collaboration (IC) Division was set up to advance collaborations with local and international agencies and age care experts, to foster the exchange of knowledge and to enable the Foundation to contribute to policy planning for older persons within a society for all ages.
  • Distinguished Scholars – Professor Ursula Lehr, Director, German Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Heidelberg, Germany, was the Foundation’s distinguished guest, and spoke on “A Passion for Life: The elderly and families meeting challenges for the 21 st Century”. She was previously the country’s Federal Minister of Youth, Family and Health.
  • Pioneered Hua Mei Care Management to provide a “one-stop” coordination and management of medical and social services for frail and at risk older persons and their families.
  • Hosted HelpAge International’s launch its Asian network.
  • Presented at a United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) seminar on ageing and the family, attended by 40 government and non-government representatives from more than 20 countries. This was the first of many collaborations with UNESCAP, a fruitful relationship that continues to this day.
  • Mrs Tsao-Ng Yu Shun honoured by the United Nations. At the UN-sponsored Global Conference on Ageing, founder Madam Tsao was honoured for her contribution as an older person to the field of ageing.
  • Launched the Expert Series on Successful Ageing in partnership with MCYS. Dr James Birren, Professor Emeritus of Gerontology and Psychology, University of Southern California, widely known as the founding father of the Psychology of Ageing, was among the eminent guests.  Another was Mr Shiro Yamasaki, Director, Planning Division, Welfare for the Elderly Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan, who spoke on “Long Term Care Insurance – the Japanese experience”.


  • Expert Series - An authority on the economics of health and social care was invited was invited to deliver a lecture on the subject: Professor Martin Knapp, Director, Centre for the Economics of Mental Health and Professor of Health Economics, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.
  • Hua Mei Training Centre rebranded as Hua Mei Training Academy.
  • Expert Series - Professor Dale Dannefer, University of Rochester, USA conducted forums and workshops on employment and the employability of older persons.
  • Initiated focus on Women and Ageing through a commissioned background study with Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) on older women in Singapore.
  • Tsao Foundation commemorates its 10th Anniversary.
  • Launch of ‘Voices of Older People’ programme to promote stakeholder engagement with seniors by using focus group discussion to better understand the needs and wishes of seniors in programme planning.
  • Experts Series - keynote speakers included Dr Victoria Velkoff, Chief, Ageing Studies Branch, US Census Bureau; Mr Dalmar Hoskins, Secretary General, International Social Security Association; and Ms Irene Hoskins, Senior Technical Officer, World Health Organization touched on the health, income security and social support disparities between women and man in the forum titled ‘Older Men are from Mars, Older Women are from Venus.
  • Partnered WHO (World Health Organization) to launch Age-Friendly Primary Health Care Initiative intended for older persons to have access to affordable primary healthcare. Hua Mei Clinic was the only test site chosen in Singapore for piloting an age-friendly primary healthcare clinic for elders, by WHO standards.
  • Distinguished Scholars - Dr Kathleen A. Bower, Principal and Co-owner, Center for Case Management, Inc. She had helped to develop 'Clinical Paths' and provider-based Case Management at New England Medical Center in 1985.


  • Launched the study on Income Security and the Older Women by Associate Professor G. Shantakumar which addressed the gender bias in ageing and the financial vulnerability of women continue to figure prominently in the Foundation's agenda with in partnership with AWARE.
  • Expert Series - "Access, Ageing and Disability - Issues and Possibilities" with MCYS (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports).
  • Invited by Social Welfare Division from the Qing Dao Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs to conduct the first 5-day Elder Care training programme. About 70 Chinese nursing aides and managers for the Qingdao Training Project conducted by Hua Mei Training Centre.
  • Distinguished Scholars – invited American geriatricians, Dr Harrison Bloom and Dr Patricia Bloom in its continuing effort to raise the bar on skills and standards in eldercare. 
  • Launched the "Development of The Trainer & Participant Manuals for Volunteers Befriending Older Persons", a ASEAN-Republic of Korea Project, was launched on 20 March. The Foundation developed the manuals and had since translated them into Mandarin.
  • Launched WINGS (Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully), which the Foundation initiated with the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations 
  • Introduced GAB (Guided AutoBiography) pioneered by Professor James Birren, to Singapore. An empowering tool for older persons to reach personal reconciliation and uncover potential, it has proven highly popular.
  • In conjunction with HelpAge Asia Pacific Regional Development Centre, Tsao Foundation organised a session on social protection for older people at the Civil Society Forum, which was part of the World Bank - International Monetary Fund 2006 Meeting in Singapore.
  • Singapore Airlines, Raffles Hotel and East West Executive Travellers joined hands to raise funds for Hua Mei Clinical Services at the launch of the East West Raffles Raffle on 5 December.
  • Launched the Citi-Tsao Foundation Financial Education Programme for Mature Women, a financial literacy programme for empowering lower income women above 40 years old. The landmark initiative has since gained local and regional recognition.
  • Appointed a WSQ Quality Provider for Community and Senior Services. In the same year, launched its first Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Accredited Training Programme for the Certificate in Community and Social Services (Senior Services).
  • Appointed the 'Centre of Specialisation' in Senior Services by the National Council of Social Services.
  • The late President S R Nathan graced the launch of Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing (HMCSA), bringing together the medical and psycho-social healthcare services that the Foundation had pioneered since 1993. The centre offers a seamless transition of multi-disciplinary care over the life course that supports ageing in the community. With the move to new premises at Central Plaza, all of the Foundation's three initiatives were finally housed under one roof.
  • The Foundation presented a gift of $750,000 to National University of Singapore (NUS) at the launch, graced by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who then the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.
  • The Ageing Research Initiative was jointly launched by Tsao Foundation and the National University of Singapore (NUS) to embark on cutting-edge, high impact investigation into key ageing issues in Singapore and the region.
  • Inaugurated the “Asia Forum on Ageing”. The event had leading voices in academia, eldercare service and policy sectors to present on population ageing and related issues.


  • Launched the ‘Signature Series’: a certificate course in Community Geriatric Nursing.
  • Distinguished Scholar - Dr Allen Power, an Eden Mentor and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester was invited to present the core principles of the Eden Alternative, a game-changer in the American elder nursing home arena. Its philosophy of holding the older person at the heart of its services resonates strongly with the Foundation’s fundamental care principles. He also gave a two-day talk on "Dementia Beyond Drugs – Changing the Culture of Care", based on his recent book publication.
  • Graduated our pioneer batch of WSQ in Community and Social Services (Senior Services) from the Higher Certificate, Advanced Certificate and Professional Diploma. A total of 110 graduates received the certificates awarded by Hua Mei Training Academy.
  • Organised inaugural Roundtable Discussion on Social Support Programme to address "Unmet Needs of Caregivers for Older Adults" was jointly organised by the Tsao Foundation Ageing Research Initiative and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School’s Programme in Health Services and Systems Research.
  • Launched International Longevity Centre Singapore (ILC-S): The Foundation joined the multi-national think tank, the ILC Global Alliance to launch ILC-S with aims to drive constructive change in how society approaches and responds to ageing by initiating impactful research and stakeholder collaborations, as well as innovative community development programmes.
  • Pilot Project SCOPE (Self-Care of Older Persons), a training cum peer mentorship programme to improve older people’s capacity for self-care.
  • Published our first research on “A Profile of Older Men and Older Women in Singapore”. The research looks at impact of population ageing; household size and living arrangements; health; and economic status.
  • Launched Citi-Tsao Foundation Financial Education Programme for Mature Women in Indonesia in partnership with Citi Indonesia and PPSW, an Indonesian NGO for women.
  • EPICC officially opened its doors to its first participants. With a day club programme as its centrepiece, EPICC delivers person-centred, team-managed primary health and psychosocial care to nursing home eligible elders, to enable them to age in the community at optimal health and wellbeing. It is modelled after the American PACE (Programme of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), which has served as an inspiration for the Foundation since its inception in 1993. The efficacy of the service model is studied in a three-year randomised control trial, in collaboration with Duke-NUS.
  • Launched the Citi-Tsao Foundation Financial Education Programme for Mature Women to People’s Association Women’s Integration Network (PA WIN).
  • Launched Community Gerontological Nursing Course which combined two different areas of specialisation: gerontological nursing and community nursing.
  • Experts Series - Dr Carol Long, a registered nurse for 37 years, and an educator, practitioner, and author, specializes in community-based geriatric and palliative care. She is an ELNEC - Geriatric (End of Life Nursing Education Consortium) trainer spoke on “Palliative Care for Older Adults in Community Settings. Nurses Leading the Way,”
  • We turned 20
  • Launched Hua Mei Elder-Centred Programme of Integrated Comprehensive Care (EPICC).
  • International Longevity Centre (ILC) Global Alliance Symposium – “The Future of Ageing”: Presented by ILC-S and the Tsao-NUS Ageing Research Initiative, the Symposium brought together some of the most progressive and distinguished thinkers and subject experts of the day to share their insights on population ageing.
  • Launched Build Your Own Nest (BYON) Matched Savings Study to study the effectiveness of a matched savings scheme intended to encourage savings behaviour among lower income, mature women. It seeks to aid policy implementation for women (who outlive men with fewer life savings) to have greater financial security in their old age.
  • Launched the Citi-Tsao Financial Education Programme for Mature Women in Malaysia. ILC-S provided training to 30 community leaders in the country who would then be conducting the training to about 800 participants in the Klang Valley.
  • Experts Series – Prof Bob Knight, the Merle H Bensinger Professor of Gerontology and Professor of Psychology at USC Davis School of Gerontology spoke on “Gerontological Counselling as an Effective Intervention Towards Mental Health”.
  • Launched the first Tsao Ng Yu Shun Public Lecture with Professor Ursula M. Staudinger-founding Director of the Centre on Ageing, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University who delivered a lecture on “Demographic Change and Growth – the Paradox”.
  • Greater focus on person-centre dementia care knowledge and capacity building by inviting experts to facilitate, conduct courses and speak at forums. The first was the Person-Centred Dementia Care Symposium whose keynote speaker was Jane Verity, world expert in person-centred dementia care. Later that year, she returned to conduct a three-day “Certified Facilitator Course on Spark of Life Club Programme”. The HMTA also invited Dr Carol Long, who was working with the New York City Alzheimer’s Association on their Palliative Care for Advanced Dementia project, to cover key issues and concerns faced by professionals and family members when caring for elders with dementia at the Comprehensive Home Care Management Strategies for Older Adults with Dementia Professional Forum
  • Launched Hua Mei Dementia Care System (DCS); using a person-centred care management approach to providing health and psycho-emotional care to elders living with dementia and critical support to their caregivers.
  • Started ComSA Whampoa Centre Primary Health Clinic for frail and at-risk elderly residents who have difficulty accessing the care that they need. The Clinic’s clients are co-managed by the ComSA care management team who also work with community stakeholders to forge a community-wide support system for active and successful ageing among Whampoa’s older residents.
  • Experts Series - Assoc Prof Siu King-Chung and Visiting Assoc Prof Thomas Kong presented their innovative process of engaging the community to collect and curate everyday objects into civic and museological displays in order to engender social change and participation titled “Community Museum and Social Art: Forging Communities for All Ages
  • Expert Series - Prof Bob Knight returned to speak, conduct a workshop, a masterclass, and a clinical supervision session on gerontological counselling titled “Ageing and Anxiety”.
  • Pioneered and launched Advanced Primary Care for Homebound Elders (APCHE), a training roadmap for community service providers in the design and operation of a homebased primary care service supportive of ageing in place.
  • Organised the second International Home Care Nursing Organisation (IHCNO) Conference 2014. A first in Singapore, the IHCNO was the platform for an impactful knowledge exchange on nursing roles and competencies in different models of homebased care. Its timing fortuitously coincided with government initiatives to develop an improved career pathway for the nursing profession in Singapore. About 200 participants from eight countries attended.
  • Tsao Ng Yu Shun Public Lecture 2014 – Prof Ursula M. Staudinger, “Productivity and Old Age – More Years, More Life”


  • Organised the st First Multipartite Regional Meeting on the Financial Security of Older Women in East and Southeast Asia. More than 50 key experts representing seven countries in the region attended the conference which also launched the first meeting of the Regional Learning Network on Women’s Financial Security in Old Age.
  • Commenced Hua Mei Community Care Management Services (CCMS), third care management team at HMCSA, offering a team-managed, social-work-and-nursing-care modality to elders in certain parts of central Singapore.
  • Experts Series – Dr Samir Sinha, “Home-based Primary Care”: The Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and University Health Network Hospital shared his expertise in two forums and a closed-door session.
  • Launched the Specialist Diploma in Gerontological Counselling, a first for Singapore and specially designed for counsellors and social workers to acquire the essential psycho-therapeutic knowledge, skills and attitudes for helping older persons in a community setting.
  • Launched Curating Whampoa, a community art and heritage project that seeks to collect curate and present the rich cultural and living heritage of Whampoa. Involving both the old and young, as well as local residents, artists, designers, students and community-based workers, the initiative was co-lead by the Foundation and Professor Thomas Kong from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The project was supported by the National Heritage Board (NHB).
  • Experts Series – Dr Alex Kalache, “Smart, Inclusive Cities”: The Executive Director of the Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing, and Professor in Geriatric Nursing at the New York University College of Nursing shared her expertise in two forums.
  • Launched Singapore’s first Specialist Diploma in Community Gerontology Nursing in partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to provide quality healthcare to elders living at home.
  • Official opening of ComSA Whampoa Centre. To reflect its collaborative nature, the project's launch was accompanied by a Symposium themed, "Towards a community-wide approach to successful ageing". Around 150 people intended the event, including partners of ComSA Whampoa Centre, medical and clinical experts, social service executives, civil servants and academics.
  • Opening of ComSA Kawan, a community café for the residents of Whampoa. Weekly programmes will be facilitated by the ComSA team for elderly residents and volunteers to gather and exchange their knowledge, experiences and stories.
  • Appointed a Centre Of Excellence And Knowledge Partner by Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Foundation was appointed by ADB as in its US$2.5m project on “Strengthening Developing Member Countries’ (DMC) Capacity in Elderly Care”.
  • Expert Series - Prof Tara Cortes, Executive Director of the Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing, and Professor in Geriatric Nursing at the New York University College of Nursing shared her expertise in two forums on “Nursing Care for Community-Dwelling Elders”.
  • Launched the results of an 18-month long study on "Financial Security of Older Women: Perspectives from Southeast Asia”.
  • First road show and public education on financial literacy for mature women. Tsao Foundation collaborated with Jurong GRC, Yuhua and Bukit Batok SMCs Community Clubs Women Executive Committees (WECs) to launch a two-day event at West Mall on 14 April. Entitled “To a Future Without Worries: Women’s Journey to Financial Freedom”, the event aimed to engage and encourage women residents to become financially independent.