THE People's Action Party (PAP), long associated with kindergartens across the country, is now setting its sights on a network of senior care centres throughout the island.
Its charitable arm, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), will launch its first senior care centre in Simei next year, the first of 10 to 15 such centres it hopes to open in the next five years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a PCF Family Day celebration yesterday.
The centres will provide seniors with health and social care services, and help support family caregivers who are working, to ease the strains of an ageing population, PM Lee said.
The move comes amid efforts by the Government to pay closer attention to the needs of the elderly.
The number of residents aged 65 and above is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.
And just as the PAP set up kindergartens in the 1960s to offer good, affordable education, its senior care centres are a response to the need for affordable daycare and rehabilitation services for the elderly, the PCF said.
Mr Lee noted the PCF had been expanding its scope to meet Singapore's evolving needs, such as by offering student care services to help working parents.
"This is how we can help to build a fair and just society. A society where everyone can have the fullest opportunities to succeed, where each one of us plays a part in serving the community, where we all move ahead together, and build a brighter tomorrow together," he said.
He was speaking at Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa, which 10,000 children, parents, and senior citizens toured yesterday. The PCF Family Day is part of the PAP's 60th anniversary celebrations, themed "Forward Together, A Brighter Tomorrow".
"The PAP started kindergartens in the 1960s because we believed that in 'a fair and just' society, every child must be given a good education," said Mr Lee. "What started out as a few kindergartens is now the PCF, a full-fledged social service organisation that runs 350 pre-school centres with over 43,000 kids."
He added that the PCF would also keep on upgrading its pre-school centres to give children the best possible start in life.
As for the senior care centres, PCF executive committee chairman Lawrence Wong said they would be an important way for the PCF to stay relevant in providing charitable and social services.
Mr Wong, who is Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, hopes a second one can be ready next year. He said the location has not been fixed, but the PCF was looking at the Yew Tee area.
The PCF will work with members of the PAP Seniors' Group, or PAP.SG, to have volunteers support these centres, he added.
PAP.SG was formed last December to better cater to the elderly, and is helmed by Parliament Speaker Halimah Yacob, with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as its adviser.
At a separate event marking the International Day of Older Persons in Marine Parade, Mr Goh said it was important to honour older Singaporeans who had helped build a cohesive and harmonious society.
The Pioneer Generation Package was fitting, he said.
"The subsidies are important but, to me, more important is the recognition of the contributions of the pioneers of Singapore," Mr Goh said.
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