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23 Jan 2020

6th Jan 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Chong Kee Hiong

MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC


Question No. 3345

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what are the various initiatives to reach out to and monitor the well-being of elderly persons living alone, particularly those in the lower income brackets; and (b) whether these programmes have been effective in reducing the number of lonely elderly deaths where bodies are undetected for extended periods of time.

 

Written Answer


1      The Government works with community partners on multi-pronged interventions to support our seniors, especially those living alone and with low income, to age well in the community.

2      First, we reach out to seniors proactively to check on their well-being. As part of regular home visits, Silver Generation Ambassadors (SG Ambassadors) assess seniors’ health and social needs, and inform them of the various government policies and schemes to support them.  The SG Ambassadors also encourage well seniors to take part in active ageing programmes, and refer frail seniors to relevant agencies for their care needs.  SGO’s engagements complement the efforts of Senior Activity Centres (SACs) that reach out to seniors in the community, particularly those in the lower-income group.

3      Second, programmes are in place to support seniors’ needs, especially for seniors who live alone or are low-income.  A key focus area is befriending. The network of SG Ambassadors, grassroots leaders and social service agencies connects seniors at risk of social isolation to community befrienders.  The befrienders visit seniors at least twice a month, supplemented with phone calls.  Seniors may also be referred to CareLine, a 24/7 hotline that provides tele-befriending services as well as emergency response to seniors in distress, which is especially helpful for those living alone.  There are also various community-led initiatives which complement formal befriending services, such as the “Neighbour Cares” programme in Jurong East.  Under this pilot, resident volunteers keep a lookout for any visible signs of distress from vulnerable seniors in neighbouring units.

4      Third, seniors with complex needs will receive more intensive follow-up.  Community case management services coordinate services required by seniors who have weak social support or complex social-health needs.  The Social Service Offices work closely with community partners to provide financial support to needy seniors.  Community outreach teams provide seniors at risk of dementia or depression with basic emotional support and coping strategies, including where to seek help if needed.  Family Service Centres also provide counselling and support services to families with seniors to help them with relationship problems, as well as financial and emotional difficulties.  Seniors with care needs, and who have no or little family support, are also supported by Senior Group Homes, Sheltered Homes and Nursing Homes, which provide residential and socio-emotional support.

5      We do not track the number of lonely elderly deaths where bodies are undetected for extended periods of time.  Building communities of care is a whole of society effort.  The efforts outlined above aim to enable our elderly to live well and leave well in the community.  MOH will continue to work with our community partners, government agencies and fellow Singaporeans to support our seniors.