45 churches join forces to help the elderly

Volunteers from Faith Community Baptist Church helping the elderly who live in rental flats at Dakota Crescent with household chores.

SINGAPORE - Churches in Singapore have come together to provide services to the elderly.

The LoveSingapore Eldercare Network, set up last year and launched officially today, has seen 45 churches team up with 21 eldercare organisations so that seniors can get help wherever they live.

People in need of help can call the church designated to coordinate services in their area.

Five churches have been picked to coordinate the delivery of services in five zones. They are Victory Family Centre (North), Living Sanctuary Brethren Church (North East), Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church (East), Faith Community Baptist Church (Central) and Church of Our Saviour (West).

These churches will send volunteers to assess what kind of help a senior needs and get the nearest church or eldercare organisation to provide assistance.

Services such as befriending, housekeeping and medical escort will be provided free of charge by church volunteers, while meal delivery and transport services will be means-tested.

So far, about 500 volunteers have been trained to help clean homes or to talk with old folk who live alone.

The churches belong to the LoveSingapore network, which is chaired by Pastor Lawrence Khong.

He said: "As our society begins to age rapidly, the needs of the frail elderly will become immense.

"The churches are rallying together to complement existing efforts by the Government to meet the needs of the elderly."

The move will add another layer of support to the existing help system.

By next June, 23 social service offices will be up and running across the island. They will work with voluntary welfare organisations and community partners in their areas to better coordinate the services they offer.

The offices are in charge of disbursing national financial aid schemes, mainly to people on lower incomes, including the elderly, children and young families.

The new church system will be open to all elderly people regardless of income.

Ms Grace Lee, centre director of the Care Corner Family Service Centre in Toa Payoh, backed the scheme, saying: "Churches can mobilise their untapped volunteers as charities usually do not have enough manpower."

Some churches in the network, such as Agape Baptist Church and Pasir Panjang Hill Brethren Church, have been providing elder befriending services for years.

Others, like Church of Our Saviour, have just started providing home help and care-giver support services on top of their existing eldercare programmes.

One resident grateful for the additional help is Madam Liu Mei Ling, who has difficulty moving around her flat to do household chores after being diagnosed with late-stage intestinal cancer.

The 64-year-old, who lives alone in a rental flat, said: "The volunteers from the nearby Faith Community Baptist Church come by to chat with me and help mop the floor and clean the windows."

This article was first published on August 08, 2014.
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