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More Ang Mo Kio HDB blocks to trial initiative where postmen monitor uncollected mail to help look out for elderly

SINGAPORE — Some Ang Mo Kio residents can expect a knock on their door if they fail to collect their mail for a week.

Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, and Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung speak to a SingPost postman who is trained to monitor letterboxes for irregularities in mail collection patterns of the residents in Cheng San precinct on Jan 8, 2023.

Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, and Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung speak to a SingPost postman who is trained to monitor letterboxes for irregularities in mail collection patterns of the residents in Cheng San precinct on Jan 8, 2023.

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  • A pilot programme where postmen monitor irregular mail collection will be expanded within the Cheng San-Seletar division of Ang Mo Kio GRC
  • As part of the programme, postmen will alert the community club if a resident's mail has not been collected for one week
  • The initiative was showcased alongside several others on Sunday during Health Minister Ong Ye Kung's visit to the division
  • The division has also introduced other initiatives to support elderly there, such as a workshop to help residents to identify dementia patients

SINGAPORE — Some Ang Mo Kio residents can expect a knock on their door if they fail to collect their mail for a week.

An initiative where postmen monitor letterboxes for irregularities in mail collection will be expanded to four more blocks this month, as part of a slew of initiatives implemented in the neighbourhood to provide support to residents, particularly the elderly.

The initiative, which is in collaboration with SingPost, was launched in September last year.

It currently covers blocks 588A, 588B, 588C and 588D at Ang Mo Kio Street 52, which fall within the Cheng San-Seletar division of Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

The initiative will be expanded to four more blocks which have a higher proportion of elderly residents. They are Blocks 422, 423, 424 and 425 along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. 

When postmen find that residents have not collected their mail for one week, they will alert staff at Cheng San Community Club (CC) through a WhatsApp group, said Mr Mohammad Sophian Ab Kadir, the Inspector of Post. 

He was speaking to the media on Sunday (Jan 8) during a ministerial visit by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung to the constituency’s Cheng San-Seletar Division.  

The CC will then send grassroots volunteers to visit residents, added Mr Sophian who oversees 28 postal staff in Ang Mo Kio GRC. 

The initiative comes amid incidents where the bodies of residents, particularly those who are elderly and live alone, were found in their homes several days after they had died. 

Eight incidents of irregular mail collection were reported to the Cheng San Community Club by postmen during the pilot period, although they turned out to be “false alarms”, such as residents forgetting to collect their mail. 

Several other programmes to engage senior citizens were also showcased on Sunday to Mr Ong.

Grassroots organisations in the division will train hawkers and shop owners in the neighbourhood on how to look out for regular elderly patrons showing signs of distress or who do not show up at shops for days. 

About 20 hawker stalls will be trained to do so, before training is provided to more stallholders and shop owners. 

Touch Community Services, which is one of the social service agencies located within the division, also conducted a workshop on Sunday for grassroots leaders, town council conservancy workers, government agency staff and others to help them identify people in the community living with dementia.

It is the first such workshop in the division targeted at grassroots leaders. Touch Community Services has run similar workshops for residents in the division since last year. 

Ms Wong Li Peng, the assistant director of Touch Active Ageing and Touch Community Services, said that signs of dementia include improperly buttoned shirts, or not being able to find the right word to express their feelings. 

During the workshop, residents and grassroots leaders will learn the dementia go-to points that they can take such elderly to, said Ms Wong. These are locations where people are stationed to help reunite dementia patients with their caregivers.

“Then at least (the residents) feel that it’s not so difficult to extend a helpful hand to somebody in need because they have somebody else to take over from them.”

From next month, Cheng San CC will also deploy a van housing a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic to residents around the estate every two weeks. The initiative is in partnership with Thong Chai Medical, a TCM charity clinic. 

Residents can visit the van for free consultations on medical ailments such as common cold and rheumatism. 

More information will be provided to residents next month on the van’s location and how residents can sign up for consultations. 

Speaking to the media after the visit, Mr Ong said that the welfare of seniors is a “major priority” of the Government due to Singapore’s ageing population. 

If successful, these initiatives can “be scaled up as much as (the Government) can" to reach out to elderly who are living alone without many visitors, said Mr Ong. 

He added that such elderly constituted a “ballpark figure” of 20 per cent of elderly in Singapore. 

Mr Ong said that programmes such as those introduced at the division ensure that the Government does not only help elderly when they are sick, but to make sure that they stay healthy for as long as possible.

Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin, the Member of Parliament overseeing the division, said that these initiatives are to “increase the eyes and ears on the ground” and “draw as many seniors” out of their homes as possible.

They target elderly at locations where they tend to gather, such as blocks, as well as those who do not leave their homes much, she added.

The Cheng San-Seletar division has a population of 52,000 residents, of which more than two out of five residents are aged 50 and above.

Related topics

elderly dementia Ang Mo Kio

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