Eldercare centres well-prepared if haze returns

SINGAPORE - Eldercare centres here will continue to stay vigilant against the haze, despite PSI levels falling into the "good" range of below 50 since Monday.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim observed measures put in place, in preparation for a return of the haze, at NTUC Eldercare's Silver Circle centre in Dakota on Thursday.

He said he was "reassured" by what he had seen and sought to assure Singaporeans that the Government has plans in place to take care of the elderly, frail and others.

The Silver Circle centre has been taking its own action since PSI levels began climbing last month.

Its staff have introduced more portable fans and ensured their day-care clients - around 40 in total - are kept hydrated every two hours. Seniors have also been taking part in more passive activities such as sit-down group games to protect them from over-exertion. When the haze hit hazardous levels, the staff closed windows and took seniors into air-conditioned rooms for refuge.

"A few seniors I spoke to actually could continue their activities even when the level was high. This shows how we, as a society, can adapt to situations that affect our country," said Dr Faishal. He praised the close cooperation between the Health Ministry, the Agency for Integrated Care and care centres in shielding the elderly from the worst effects.

"I'd like to encourage us to move in this direction, in looking - in pandemics or crises that we are going to face - to see how (government agencies and people) can work together."

The staff at the Silver Circle centre reported that a few seniors had complained of headaches and watery eyes, while two were sent to hospital as a precaution when they developed chest pains.

But others brushed off concerns about the haze.

Mr Tan Kim Neo, 75, said in Mandarin: "At first I felt a little unwell, but then it went away."

Another day-care client, Mr Tan Chwee Kee, 88, added: "I don't bother about the haze. It didn't bother me at all."

NTUC Eldercare manager Caymania Low said: "(The haze) caught us unawares but we are prepared, and if it comes back again we are better placed to handle it."

Elsewhere, hospitals have begun introducing contingency plans should the haze worsen again. These include measures to divert staff to handle a surge in patients.

The Education Ministry has said that primary and secondary schools may close if the Pollutant Standards Index reaches hazardous levels again.

For more haze updates from AsiaOne, click here:

davidee@sph.com.sg


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