Elderly folk who need help after being discharged from hospital and people with mental health problems are two "emerging groups" which Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman thinks his Community Development Council (CDC) needs to watch out for.
The South East District's mayor was responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call for mayors to, among other things, work with government agencies to identify emerging needs and issues.
Noting that there are more elderly people being discharged from hospitals who live alone or only with an elderly spouse, Dr Maliki said: "We need to look at how the health aspect of recovery connects with the social aspect."
One way to help is to train neighbours and students to check on them, and ensure they take their medication and are not at risk of falling down, added the former social work lecturer who is now Minister of State for National Development and Defence.
As for those with mental health issues, he said they "can function effectively, if they keep to their medication regime and have support from the community".
He said his CDC will work with the Institute of Mental Health and other groups to identify the help gaps and plug them.
Besides the elderly, newly appointed mayor Denise Phua, who oversees Central Singapore CDC, also identified those with disabilities as a group to help.
"Because Central CDC covers the biggest area, I suspect we may have the largest population of those (with) disabilities as well," she said, adding that there are almost one million people in her district.
North East District mayor Teo Ser Luck said that if CDCs are ineffective, "we are another layer of bureaucracy".
Evidently struck by World Cup fever, he likened an effective CDC to a midfielder, saying: "The midfielder feeds the ball to the strikers, or grassroots organisations, who in turn make the goal, or bring benefits to the public."
Remaining effective would require refining existing schemes, said newly appointed South West District mayor Low Yen Ling.
For Dr Teo Ho Pin, mayor of North West District and head of the mayors' committee, good outreach efforts are fundamental. "What is important is reaching out to the needy, to find out what they need and think of ways (for them) to be self-reliant. We need a lot of helping hands."
This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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