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Stakeholders share their thoughts on action plan for ageing

Recruiting seniors, retirement adequacy and volunteerism among the elderly -- these are some issues stakeholders want to discuss under the national action plan aimed at enabling seniors live more meaningful lives.

SINGAPORE: Recruiting seniors, retirement adequacy and volunteerism among the elderly -- these are some issues stakeholders want to discuss under the national action plan aimed at enabling seniors live more meaningful lives.

67-year-old Lau Chuen has been working as a care staff at St Luke's Eldercare for eight years, and he said this experience has taught him to understand the needs of the elderly better.

St Luke's Eldercare is an example of a workplace that makes it welcoming for seniors to work in -- 86 per cent of its workers are above the age of 40. Its age-friendly HR practices has promoted a life-long learning culture and empowers seniors to be more confident and appreciative of the work that they do.

While the job may be physically demanding for some senior staff, the centre has made efforts to counter this problem.

Dr Kenny Tan, chief operating officer at St Luke's ElderCare and St Luke's Hospital, said: "As age catches up on them, they may not be able to function as well in some of the more strenuous tasks. We've also provided education -- we teach them transfer techniques or we teach them how to take care of their own physical bodies as they provide care.

"We have also bought equipment like back braces that they wear even as they take care of the clients in transfer techniques. We've also got manual hoists that allow them to be able to transfer clients on their own."

But some seniors still face difficulties getting a job as not all companies are forthcoming in hiring them. This is an issue that MP for Marine Parade GRC Tin Pei Ling hopes will be addressed at the national level.

She said: "There's still a proportion of mature workers who would like or need to continue to work even as they age, perhaps even after they have reached their 60s or past 62 after they hit the retirement age.

"(There are many issues like) whether they will continue to have a fair opportunity to the job, whether they will be discriminated against because of their age and whether they will receive the same kind of treatment -- for example the CPF contribution rate."

TOUCH Community Services also hopes that the conversation will discuss how to encourage volunteerism among the elderly.

The voluntary welfare organisation has observed that its older clients get along better with the senior care staff as they share common interests. Thus, it said that the pool of seniors should be tapped further.

Julia Lee, director of the TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre, said: "It takes a while for them to warm up to the idea of volunteering for other elderly.

"But when we invited them to come on board and we said we will provide the training for them, many of them were willing to come forward to give it a try. I believe the elderly are capable of learning new things and they are eager to learn new things."

The Ministerial Committee on Ageing will be conducting a series of public consultations in the coming months. The aim is to get the action plan ready by 2015.

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