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Community support services for the elderly to cover more areas

​SINGAPORE — Starting next year, the programme to coordinate support services for the elderly in the community, which is mostly fronted by Pioneer Generation (PG) ambassadors, will be extended to more constituencies.

Community support services for the elderly to cover more areas

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Appreciation Luncheon for Pioneer Generation Ambassadors 2017 for Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC on July 23, 2017. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

SINGAPORE — Starting next year, the programme to coordinate support services for the elderly in the community, which is mostly fronted by Pioneer Generation (PG) ambassadors, will be extended to more constituencies.

Announcing this on Sunday (July 23) at a lunch for PG ambassadors held at Yio Chu Kang Community Club, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said help was given to almost 800 seniors through the Community Network for Seniors pilot.

Over 300 ambassadors from the Tampines, Marine Parade and Choa Chu Kang group representation constituencies participated in the pilot.

They brought seniors to health screening exercises, encouraged them to join group exercises with other seniors and linked them with friends in the neighbourhood, said Mr Lee.

Because the programme has succeeded, such efforts will be extended “across the PG ambassador network to other constituencies”, he said. Details on which constituencies these will be have not been finalised.

There are now over 3,000 trained PG ambassadors who help to explain policies such as MediShield Life, the Community Health Assist Scheme and the Silver Support Scheme to seniors.

They also help seniors apply for government assistance schemes, such as the HDB’s Enhancement for Active Seniors programme, which installs elderly-friendly features in homes.

Under the Community Network for Seniors programme, the ambassadors will provide more information on active ageing and befriending services, besides encouraging seniors to go for health screenings.

To that end, Mr Lee said the PG ambassadors have a new mission: “To deliver care and concern to the doorstep of all of our seniors (and) to help our seniors grow old gracefully in communities of care all over Singapore.”

This programme was first announced at last year’s Budget. Thereafter, the PG Office and the Health Ministry piloted it at the three constituencies to integrate and pool resources for elderly-related services.

This included bringing together healthcare institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, social work agencies, grassroots leaders and residents.

Turning to the PG Ambassadors programme launched in August 2014, Mr Lee said the authorities had recruited volunteers to walk the ground and engage with pioneers and their carers. They helped to explain the benefits of the PG Package and reassure pioneers that they will be taken care of, he said.

Noting their role in implementing the package, Mr Lee said that no matter how well-designed the package was, the authorities had to “close the last mile” by helping pioneers to understand and take full advantage of the benefits.

Last July, the PG Office’s outreach programme was expanded to include seniors who were not pioneers. This meant the ambassadors had to learn about and explain other support schemes, besides learning to interact with the elderly. To date, the ambassadors have reached out to 70 per cent of the 490,000-odd seniors here.

Some seniors take a while to warm up to the ambassadors, while the latter will also have to deal with seniors who are not so happy because they may have missed out on the PG Package or other support schemes, and reassure them, said Mr Lee.

“But in the end, you’ve won over the seniors with your kindness of heart and your dedication. (You) not only closed the last mile, but continued to go the extra mile for the old people because you cared for them,” he added.

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