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New initiative gets healthy residents to help frail neighbours

An initiative to get healthy people check on their neighbours who are elderly and living alone was launched in Chin Swee Road on Sunday. This buddy system pairs frail elderly residents with healthy neighbours who can look out for them or call for help if needed.

SINGAPORE: An initiative to get healthy people check on their neighbours who are elderly and living alone was launched in Chin Swee Road on Sunday.

This is part of the Ageing Gracefully @ Home initiative, a buddy system that pairs frail elderly residents with healthy neighbours who can look out for them or call for help if needed.

Those who benefit from this system include brothers Chan Chew Lock, 79, and Chan Chiew Mun, 75, who both suffer from dementia.

Their neighbour, 72-year-old Go Kim Eng, checks on them four times a day to make sure they take their meals and medicine regularly.

The initiative was officially launched by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat during his visit to the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng constituency on Sunday morning.

Mr Heng also opened a new CATCH Plus Centre, which will be used to carry out programmes for less fortunate children.

He said: "While government policies are very important at the national level, the local communities have different needs and these needs can very often be met more efficiently and more meaningfully at the community level.

“We hope that many more of these ground-up efforts to bring up this community spirit to build a more caring community will take root across the whole island and I'd also say that a caring Singapore society must begin with caring neighbourhoods."

He later held a dialogue with residents, some of whom raised their concerns about healthcare costs.

Mr Heng acknowledged that the government needs to communicate in simpler terms policies such as the Pioneer Generation Package and the MediShield Life.

He said: "The details can be quite complicated of course, but we have to do our very best to make it simple, easy to understand and to provide helplines and provide volunteers as well as full-time staff who can explain these details.

“I don't think it's possible for everyone to know the full details of every policy because the design of policies is by its nature complicated. But we have to simplify the communication so that the residents whom we want these policies to benefit from can avail themselves of these changes."

Before the dialogue with Mr Heng, residents from the seven zones within the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng constituency had a mini-discussion resembling Our Singapore Conversation.

They talked about how residents -- whether youth, adults or the elderly -- can contribute towards creating a more caring community. 

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