Help's at hand for needy elderly residents

PHOTO: Help's at hand for needy elderly residents

SINGAPORE - In October last year, efforts were made in Bukit Merah to publicise a health- care-subsidy scheme available to elderly residents.

During home visits, grassroots volunteers and representatives from the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) were involved in promoting the Seniors' Mobility Fund.

The fund provides needy residents with subsidies for mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walking sticks.

The initiative was carried out after AIC identified nine priority areas - with a higher concentration of elderly residents aged 65 years and above - in which to raise awareness about community care and subsidies for the needy.

Outreach efforts in eight of the nine areas have been completed.

AIC said grassroots leaders will touch base with residents in Toa Payoh, the remaining area, in the next one to two months.

Citing Singapore's rapidly ageing population as a reason to ramp up outreach efforts, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday that leveraging on the established grassroots and community network to reach out directly to residents was a more proactive approach.

AIC, which is under the Ministry of Health, is in charge of coordinating intermediate and long-term care for the elderly.

It usually refers patients in need of rehabilitative care to suitable community hospitals or nursing homes.

AIC embarked on the community-engagement efforts in June last year, due to the public's lack of awareness of intermediate and long-term care options, said Mr Andy Seet, AIC's head of corporate and marketing communications.

The initiative also included training grassroots leaders to better advise residents about care options, and holding feedback sessions to understand issues faced by residents.

So far, AIC has seen successful applications for the Seniors' Mobility Fund increase by more than 200 per cent since last June, with 97 successful applications that month.

Mr Gan, who was visiting the AIC in Maxwell Road yesterday, also took the opportunity to apologise for the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA's) error in testing DNA samples in criminal cases, which was made public on Tuesday.

He said: "We are sorry that it has occurred. Our priority is to put it right."

HSA has said it will re-test DNA samples in 87 ongoing criminal cases.

For more my paper stories click here.