Study to learn how happy the vulnerable are

Study to learn how happy the vulnerable are

Are vulnerable groups of people as happy with their lives as the average person in Singapore? The authorities are keen to find out.

The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) will be conducting an extensive survey to measure the quality of life of the elderly, people with disabilities, and those with mental illness.

It is also surveying the population, which will serve as a control group for comparison. A total of 4,000 people - 1,000 for each group - will be polled from January next year.

This is the first study on such a scale that aims to find out from seniors and those with disabilities what they consider important for their well-being.

The questionnaire, based on World Health Organisation Quality of Life assessment instruments, will measure their level of satisfaction in areas such as psychological and physical health as well as social relationships.

"Findings from the study will be used for NCSS' planning and development of services, and identify areas of improvement to increase their well-being," said Ms Tina Hung, deputy chief executive of NCSS, the umbrella body for more than 400 voluntary welfare organisations here.

Respondents will be selected from the databases of the Department of Statistics and agencies that work with the disabled, such as SG Enable.

So far, results of smaller-scale studies involving the elderly and disabled have been encouraging.

Findings two weeks ago from a study commissioned by the Council for Third Age, a government-funded group which promotes active ageing, showed that respondents enjoyed a good quality of life. About 70 per cent of them said they looked forward to each day and rarely or never felt things were out of control.

Earlier this year, Bizlink, the second-largest employer of the disabled after the civil service, released results from a two-year study which found that its workers' quality of life was closely tied to employment status.

The workers had higher levels of contentment in areas such as standard of living, health and relationships than the disabled who were unemployed.

"I think a national survey will be useful because, from our experience, knowing the aspects of dissatisfaction helps us address them and our workers are more contented now," said Mr Alvin Lim, Bizlink's chief executive.

Singapore has generally done well in global studies of well-being. It is the world's sixth-best country to be in and the 30th happiest country in the world, according to studies last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the United Nations respectively.

Mr Darren Ong, 51, who is disabled and works as a production operator, said it is good that the country is focusing more on the well-being of the vulnerable. "With this information, I hope they can better help people in need."

jantai@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 1, 2014.
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