SINGAPORE: Elderly residents in the Chong Pang ward can now make use of a one—stop social service provider — whether they are looking for leisure activities or financial help.
The integrated Social Service Hub, the first of its kind, is collaboration between Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities and the area’s grassroots leaders and community.
One in four residents in Chong Pang is a retiree, compared with the national average of about one in 10.
Grassroots leaders in the area have set up a service centre to look into elderly care.
Elderly residents can choose from a variety of activities — from doing light exercises to playing games. At the same time, help is available.
Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam, who is also the Member of Parliament taking care of Chong Pang, said: "The government announced various measures to help people who’re older in the Budget. But the older people sometimes don’t know if they get assistance for this, support for that, hearing aids for example. And here is one stop where you can get access and knowledge, people will tell you what you can get and help you get that. So that’s the whole concept."
The centre’s 30 case managers are in charge of finding out the needs of the residents who go to the centre. The case managers working at the hub are trained in social work and are familiar with government schemes.
Satyaprakash Tiwari, divisional director for elderly and disability services at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities, said: "They provide a range of genetic assessment — means basically they know what the needs of the elderly are. The needs may range from financial, medical, even things like home modification.
"So once they make a thorough assessment, meaning from social, medical, even to the home safety, then they will start tapping the resources which (the elderly) qualify for. These could be various government schemes, the financial assistance schemes, the mobility fund, we also tap the CDCs, and we also tap the various foundations, which can help them in terms of financial aid."
Mr Shanmugam said: "We work very closely with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and as a result, there’s step—down care. You may not need to go to the hospital and people can come down here and work on less serious cases. You can therefore grow gracefully while staying in your environment and being helped by the community."
Thye Hua Kwan said this integrated social hub could be the solution to "ageing in place", where elderly Singaporeans can take part in activities when they are healthy and seek help when the need arises. If successful, it hopes this model can be replicated in other parts of Singapore.
The Social Service Hub is also enlisting the help of more than 100 volunteers.
Many of the volunteers are elderly residents themselves, chosen because they can speak a range of dialects and communicate with residents using the centre’s facilities.
Mr Tiwari said this is part of its drive to promote active ageing and is a win—win situation.
For example, elderly volunteers help out at its call centre.
Mr Tiwari said: "We’re looking at the elderly who are active, who can speak dialect, who can help us with the programme. And we’re recruiting volunteers, basically one to do our tele—befriending — it means if we have a group of elderly who want to speak to someone, in for example Cantonese, call our centre, our centre will connect to our volunteer who speaks Cantonese. And both of them can have good communication of up to one hour. So this is something which is a win—win situation."
Mr Shanmugam said the help of the community is extremely important in setting up the hub. Yishun Junior College has helped to raise funds of some S$20,000 for the call centre.
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