The North West District is setting up a database of its 200,000 elderly residents that will track what they need, such as age-friendly features at homes, and their interests.
The database, which the district hopes to have up and running in three years, will help it design tailor-made programmes, said mayor Teo Ho Pin on Friday. For instance, if the information shows many of the elderly there are interested in taiji, the district will ramp up such programmes. And if the data identifies a growing proportion of elderly folk with mobility issues staying alone, grassroots volunteers can work with the Housing Board to ensure their homes are fitted with features like grab bars.
Currently, several MPs have their own databases for different purposes. MP Mohamad Maliki Osman, for example, tracks the age, gender and occupation of over 500 of his constituents in Siglap, to help link them with community resources. Through the directory, he managed to find a nurse to dress the wounds of an elderly constituent daily and a taxi driver to ferry her to medical appointments.
However, the upcoming North West District-wide database is believed to be the first involving so many elderly people. "It may be taxing and tedious work but we need these numbers to plan for the future as it takes time to formulate policies and programmes," said Dr Teo.
Over the last two weeks, survey forms have been distributed to some 4,000 households in Bukit Panjang. It is hoped that the database for Bukit Panjang residents will be ready by next March. It is part of a district-wide plan called WeCare@North West.
Another issue that the district wishes to tackle is to help the elderly become more aware of government schemes and community programmes.
"There are so many help schemes for them but the seniors either don't know about them, don't know how to apply or are confused about the complex eligibility criteria," said Dr Teo. The district plans to get government and community agencies like the Health Ministry and HDB to explain such schemes to seniors citizens at its various residents' committees. The first open house will be held at Block 413, Saujana Road today at 7pm.
So far, around 40 grassroots volunteers have been trained to explain such schemes to the elderly.
One volunteer is Madam Lim Ai Kheng, 47, who for the past two weeks has been knocking on doors.
"I met seniors... struggling with medical problems but do not know they can get subsidies for private clinic consultations," said the architectural assistant. "The success of any scheme lies in getting people to use them."
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