Pioneer scheme ramps up aid for elderly disabled

Pioneer scheme ramps up aid for elderly disabled
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor addressing a dialogue session for general practitioners and their assistants.

SINGAPORE - Pioneer Generation who need help with getting around and looking after themselves will get an extra $100 a month from September.

The Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme, first announced in February, is meant to help this group with expenses such as medical and home care bills, or even the cost of hiring a domestic worker.

Announcing this yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: "We are hoping to have as smooth an application process as possible."

About 9,000 citizens will be told by mail that they have been included in the scheme.

People who automatically qualify include those currently getting help under Elder-Shield, the Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly, and the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant.

Other applicants must first be asswessed by any fully registered doctor, nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

To qualify, they must permanently require assistance with at least three of six daily activities: bathing, getting dressed, using the toilet, moving from the bed to a chair, and moving on a level surface.

Application forms are at community centres or social service offices. They can also be downloaded from Sign-ups start next month, and forms should be e-mailed or posted to the Agency for Integrated Care, which is administering the scheme.

Dr Khor enlisted the help of general practitioners (GPs) to spread the word to their patients about this and other elements of the Pioneer Generation Package at a dialogue session for GPs and their assistants yesterday.

"As neighbourhood GPs, very often you are the first health-care touchpoints for many Singaporeans.

"We want to make sure that you have a sufficient understanding of the scheme so you can help us address some of the queries from your patients," she said.

Much of the dialogue focused on the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), which subsidises visits to participating GPs and dentists for citizens in middle- to lower-income households and the pioneer generation.

Some asked whether the claim system for doctors could be streamlined to encourage more of them to come on board.

Others asked if there could be greater differentiation among Chas patients, to enable the most needy to get more subsidies.

"We try and make sure that we give targeted help according to needs," Dr Khor replied. "But I think there is a balance that we need to strike. If we give so many exceptions, it will be very difficult for us to administer."

This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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