Easier access for seniors, thanks to initiative

At the launch of the City For All Ages guidebook are (from left) Mr Heng Chee How, Dr Amy Khor and (behind them, from left) Tsao Foundation chairman Mary Ann Tsao and deputy chief executive Tan Peck Sim. With them are senior citizen Ho Liang Hing, 64, with her caregiver Iisdewi Lamarsari and senior citizen Salleh Karasoo Payeroo, 97, with his daughter Junaidah Salleh.
PHOTO: Easier access for seniors, thanks to initiative

It ised to take four separate bus journeys for Madam Junaidah Salleh to take her 97-year-old father who uses a wheelchair to Toa Payoh Polyclinic and back.

Now they can visit a small satellite clinic near their block which opens twice a week.

Run by charity organisation Tsao Foundation, it was set up as part of Whampoa's City For All Ages (CFAA) initiative.

The initiative gives grassroots bodies $50,000 to kick-start projects that help the elderly.

These are put in place after an MP and grassroots leaders look into what residents in their community need to make it easier for them to get out and about.

Projects have been launched in 16 estates between 2011 and the beginning of this year.

Whampoa grassroots leaders enlisted Tsao Foundation's help to start the clinic for patients with complex medical problems. It currently has 20 patients on its books but this will be increased to 200 in the coming months.

The clinic has set up a partnership with Toa Payoh Polyclinic, which supplies medication at the normal subsidised rates. Residents can use their Pioneer Generation or Community Health Assist Scheme subsidy cards.

Prescriptions are faxed to the polyclinic and medicine is collected the following day before being distributed to patients. "This clinic is so convenient," said Madam Junaidah, 48, who suffers from diabetes and hypertension.

Senior residents in Queenstown have also had problems getting to the local polyclinic but, since May, a free shuttle has been running twice on Thursdays to pick them up from two places.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, launched a CFAA guidebook in Whampoa yesterday to share success stories from the 16 estates and suggestions on how to implement similar schemes at others. "This is a ground-up initiative. It's what people themselves want, so they take ownership and champion the moves."

She cited a scheme pioneered by the CFAA in Marine Parade which saw anti-slip floors and grab bars installed in Housing Board flats. This was later rolled out to all HDB flats where senior citizens live.

Another scheme that appears to be going nationwide is the removal of physical barriers that impede seniors and wheelchair users from moving around their estates.

Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and MP for Whampoa, said: "We don't want the elderly to be trapped in their homes by physical barriers."

Whampoa grassroots leaders identified 265 obstacles - including steep ramps and uneven surfaces - and have so far corrected more than half of them.

They also found that seniors are concerned about their health, so they now follow up health screenings with regular health talks and healthy cooking lessons to help residents stay healthy.

Healthier, happier lives under City For All Ages scheme

The 16 estates in the City For All Ages scheme have introduced various initiatives to help seniors lead healthier and happier lives.

Bedok has engaged a nurse to provide health monitoring and advice to seniors every Friday evening. It also has a body mass index machine, which helps seniors monitor their own health, and senior-friendly exercise machines.

Bukit Panjang helps elderly residents upgrade their skills through conversational English and computer literacy classes.

Marine Parade has installed anti-slip drain covers, added seats around the area so seniors can rest, and printed information at bus stops in larger fonts for easier reading.

Whampoa holds weekly i-Sing & Dance sessions, led by heart surgeon Tan Yong Seng and attended by about 100 participants. Dr Tan gives health talks as well.

Choa Chu Kang serves fruit at every community activity and has a community garden that is tended by seniors. Siglap offers low-cost traditional Chinese and Indian medicine consultations every month. More than 300 elderly residents have benefited.

Tanglin-Cairnhill has installed bedside light switches for seniors.

Tampines Central holds fall-prevention workshops.

Hong Kah North provides monthly food donations for needy seniors. It also cleans and paints their flats.


This article was first published on Oct 13, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.