Medical help for seniors comes to their doorstep

Medical help for seniors comes to their doorstep
Mr Lim Ah Ngiew, (centre) getting a medical check-up from Dr Tan Sai Tiang (right) at the ComSA clinic in Whampoa yesterday, as care manager Esther Koh looks on.

A fall four years ago left retired cleaner Lim Ah Ngiew with a debilitating spinal condition that forced him to use a wheelchair.

The 69-year-old, who also has chronic conditions like high blood pressure and glaucoma, let his health decline instead of going for scheduled physiotherapy sessions and medical checks.

"It was inconvenient to travel and I didn't want to trouble my son to take time off from work just to take me for a check-up," he said in Mandarin.

Things turned around in 2012 after he joined a pilot project in Whampoa that helps seniors receive medical help and other services in their own neighbourhood. Now, a trained volunteer wheels Mr Lim to twice-weekly check-ups at a nearby mobile clinic, and medical staff monitor his condition, as well as provide transport to take him to hospital check-ups.

Mr Lim is among hundreds of residents who will benefit from the Community for Successful Ageing scheme, which will be officially launched on Saturday.

Spearheaded by the non-profit Tsao Foundation, it links up residents with a communitywide system of health and social support services.

The Tote Board has pumped $4 million into the project, with Tsao Foundation giving another $1 million.

The project will identify high-risk elderly residents in the community who need medical care but have financial constraints or lack family support.

Those with more severe conditions or mobility issues can visit a mobile clinic in Whampoa. The clinic's family physicians are trained in geriatrics and will contact the patients' hospital specialists when needed.

Trained volunteers and medical professionals will monitor more severe cases through house visits and phone calls. In less severe cases, patients are referred to polyclinics or enrolled in peer-support programmes so they can care for themselves and socialise.

The programme has helped 120 elderly residents receive primary care in their community since 2012. The number of seniors receiving medical aid is projected to rise to 688 by 2017. Another 600 residents with less severe health conditions will be enrolled in the peer-support programme by 2017.

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