"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.


Milestones of Tsao Foundation


Tsao Foundation was founded by Mrs Tsao Ng Yu Shun at the age of 87, to enable older persons to have better quality of life, and live in dignity, as masters of their own destiny.

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. Its goal was to enable ageing in place, an enduring principle in the Foundation's work. 


The 'Gift of Light' programme was initiated to deliver health and medical services to seniors and their families, such as free eye screening. 


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.


The Hua Mei Seniors Clinic was established 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 lifecourse approach to successful ageing, and promotes ageing in the community.

The Hua Mei Acupuncture and TCM Centre was founded to offer complementary treatment for a variety of diseases and chronic conditions, in accordance with WHO principles.

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.

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.  That event later evolved into the continuing 'Experts Series on Successful Ageing' by which the Foundation invites international authorities on the diverse aspects of longevity, for the purpose of supporting professional knowhow in the community, and its own growth into a knowledge organisation.

The Tsao Ng Yu Shun Health Scholarship was set up to enable health professionals in geriatrics to pursue a 'Master' programme. 

Tsao Foundation and Sage Counselling Centre co-organised 'Working with Ageing Families: Challenges and Approaches' - a conference for professionals working with family caregivers for older persons.


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 21st Century”. She was previously the country's Federal Minister of Youth, Family and Health.


Another pioneering service in Singapore - the Hua Mei Care Management - was set up to provide a “one-stop” coordination and management of medical and social services for frail and  at risk older persons and their families.

At the professional forum for the year's Distinguished Scholars' Programme, the keynote speaker was Lady Sally Greengross, former Chief Executive of Age Concern, England. 


The Experts’ Series On Successful Ageing was inaugurated, 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".


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.


The Hua Mei Training Centre (now Hua Mei Training Academy)  was established to raise the standards of eldercare among professionals, and volunteer and family caregivers, and to enhance public awareness and knowledge of how to age successfully.

Professor Dale Dannefer, University of Rochester, USA. was our visiting scholar, conducting forums and workshops on employment and the employability of older persons.


Tsao Foundation commemorates its 10th Anniversary.

For the year's professional forum titled, “Older Men are from Mars, Older Women are from Venus – Policy Issues on Health, Income Security and Social Support", the keynote speakers were 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. 


Tsao Foundation partnered in the World Health Organization's launch of the 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.

A pioneer of care management in Singapore, the Foundation invited to its Distinguished Scholars Programme, 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.

Tsao Foundation, a long standing member of HelpAge International (which Dr Mary Ann Tsao chaired from 1997 to 2001), participated in its Regional Meeting held in Hanoi, Vietnam, from 2-5 November.


The Hua Mei Training Centre was invited by the Social Welfare Division of the Qing Dao Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs to conduct the first 5-day Elder Care training programme for 70 Chinese nursing aides and managers for the Qingdao Training Project.

Tsao Foundation partnered with The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) to commission a study on Income Security and the Older Women by Associate Professor  G. Shantakumar. How to address gender bias in ageing and the financial vulnerability of women continue to figure prominently in the Foundation's agenda. It has led to the launch of the Citi-Tsao Financial Education Programme for Women.

Tsao Foundation held an Experts Series Professional Forum, "Access, Ageing and Disability - Issues and Possibilities" with MCYS (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports).


Hua Mei Clinic hosted leading American geriatricians, Dr Harrison Bloom and Dr Patricia Bloom, as part of its Distinguished Scholar Programme, in its continuing effort  to raise the bar on skills and standards in eldercare. 

The ASEAN-ROK Project, "Development of The Trainer & Participant Manuals for Volunteers Befriending Older Persons" was launched on 20 March. The Foundation developed the manuals and have since translated them into Mandarin.

WINGS (Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully), which the Foundation initiated with the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, opened its centre on 10 June. 

GAB, the Guided Autobiography programme pioneered by Professor James Birren, was introduced to Singapore by Tsao Foundation. An empowering tool for older persons to reach personal reconciliation and uncover potential, it has proven highly popular.

Tsao Foundation started contributing to the Civil Service College's Strategic L.E.A.D Programme, delivering the section on social issues in ageing. The partnership continues today.

Tsao Foundation participated in UN ESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) held in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

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.

The innovative 'Seniors Talkshop' was launched to tap on the potential of older persons to be trained as public educators on ageing. From that, the Foundation subsequently developed the Seniors Health Ambassador Programme for the Health Promotion Board. 


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.


The Citi-Tsao Foundation Financial Education Programme for Mature Women, a financial literacy programme for empowering lower income women above 40 years old, was launched. The landmark initiative has since gained local and regional recognition.

Hua Mei Training Academy launched its first Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Accredited Training Programme for the Certificate in Community and Social Services (Senior Services).

Tsao Foundation was appointed as the 'Centre of Specialisation' in Senior Services by the National Council of Social Services.

The Workforce Development Agency of Singapore appointed Tsao Foundation as a WSQ Quality Provider for Community and Senior Services.


Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing (HMCSA) was launched, bringing together the medical and psycho-social healthcare services that the Foundation had pioneered since 1993, to offer a seamless transition of multi-disciplinary care over the life course that supports ageing in the ciommunity. With the move to new premises at Central Plaza, all of the Foundation's three initiatives were finally housed under one roof. The official opening was graced by President S R Nathan.

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. 

The Foundation presented a gift of $750,000 to NUS at the launch, which was graced by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

As preamble to the launch of the International Longevity Centre Singapore, the Asia Forum on Ageing was inugurated. The event had leading voices in academia, eldercare service and policy sectors to present on population ageing and related issues.



Hua Mei Training Academy launched the first of its ‘signature series’: a certificate course in Community Geriatric Nursing. The signature courses are to be developed and trained by practitioners for practitioners, tapping on the Foundation’s two decades of expertise in providing person-centred, interdisciplinary care to enable ageing in place.

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. 

Dr Power also gave a 2-day talk on "Dementia Beyond Drugs – Changing the Culture of Care", based on his recent book publication.

The first batch of 110 participants graduated from the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) in Community and Social Services (Senior Services) from the Higher Certificate, Advanced Certificate and Professional Diploma awarded by Hua Mei Training Academy. 

The 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. Researchers, policy makers and caregivers exchanged views on critical issues in ageing, best practice in research, as well as policy design and implementation in regards to social programmes for caregivers of older adults.


Dr Patricia Bloom was invited to present "Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction", an evidence-based method to help patients cope more effectively with stress, pain, and illness. Dr Bloom is Associate Professor of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Director of Integrative Health for the Martha Stewart Center for Living / Coffey Geriatrics Practice at Mount Sinai Medical Center. 

A talk on evidence-based research in Traditional Chinese Medicine, followed by a panel discussion were held with the visiting specialist, Dr Brian Berman, Professor of Family Medicine and the founder and director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. (Tsao Foundation has a Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture practice).

We hosted the visit of Dr Alex Kalache, former director of the World Health Organization, Department of Ageing and Life Course (WHO-ALC), who delivered a talk on the constituents of an age-friendly city. Under the banner, “Age-friendly Cities: Where does Singapore stand?” two forums were also co-organised with The School of Human Development and Social Sciences, UniSM, and the Council of Third Age.

The renowned American expert on end-of-life care, Timothy E. Quill, M.D , was keynote speaker at the Foundation’s‘ "Palliative Care Systems in an Ageing Population Symposium". He is Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; Director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care; and a Board-certified palliative care consultant in Rochester, New York.

The Foundation launched its latest initiative, the Longevity Centre Singapore (ILC-Singapore), which was established when the Foundation joined the multi-national think tank, the ILC Global Alliance. ILC-Singapore 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.

ILC-Singapore marked its inauguration by launching Project SCOPE, a first-of-its-kind training and peer mentorship programme, with an efficacy research component, that aims to improve older people’s capacity for self-care.

The Hua Mei "Elder-centred Programme of Inclusive Comprehensive Care" (EPICC) officially opened its doors to its first participants. With a day club programme as centerpiece, EPICC delivers person-centred, team-managed primary health and psycho-social care to nursing home eligible elders, to enable them to age in the community at optimal health and wellbeing.  The efficacy of the service model is studied in a 3-year randomised control trial, in collaboration with Duke-NUS.


Citi-Tsao Foundation Financial Education Programme for Mature Women extends its community reach as the People’s Association Women’s Integration Network (PA WIN) became its latest and largest partner to offer the programme.

For the Experts Series, “Palliative Care for Older Adults in Community Settings. Nurses Leading the Way,” the Foundation invited Dr Carol Long, who helped in developing Hua Mei Training Academy’s Community Gerontological Nursing Certificate Course. 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. 

The Foundation’s Hua Mei Mobile Clinic released its findings on the successful and rewarding end-of-life care programme that it piloted in 2009.