SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will make two “structural moves” to build more “communities of care” throughout Singapore, in order to address the needs of senior citizens more holistically, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday (Mar 7).
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Gan outlined his ministry’s efforts in the Singapore Cares (SG Cares) initiative, which is a joint effort by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
Mr Gan explained that the Community Networks for Seniors (CNS) was piloted in 2016 to mobilise and coordinate efforts of community volunteers, service providers and other stakeholders in each community to care for seniors. He also stressed the need to build more of such “communities of care” throughout Singapore.
MOH is making two structural moves in order to achieve this.
First, he said the repositioning of the Pioneer Generation Office as the Silver Generation Office, which is housed within the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), will help extend their outreach efforts to seniors beyond the Pioneer generation, and tap on AIC’s capabilities and services. Giving more details on the Silver Generation Office, he said it will do “more targeted outreach” to bring preventive health and wellness programmes to seniors.
“For those with multiple needs, they can be quickly connected with relevant health and social support services under AIC,” he said.
The second shift, he said, is to consolidate all health and social aged services under MOH to better support seniors to age well within the community. The transfer of MSF’s social care functions to MOH will allow MOH to deliver support to seniors more seamlessly, he added, with AIC as the central implementation agency to coordinate all social and health related services for seniors and their caregivers.
“This move also allows us to plan ahead for eldercare services at a national level, and in a more integrated way,” he explained.
MORE SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS
Mr Gan added that his ministry will provide greater support for caregivers, noting that he recognises their dedication and the important role they play in caring for seniors. He outlined the existing support for caregivers but noted that there is room to do more.
“Emotional and timely support is important for caregivers,” he said. “We are working on new approaches to embed dedicated support for caregivers within eldercare centres.” For example, support could take the form of phone conversations with caregivers, face-to-face meetings or even home visits.
“MOH and AIC will continue to take on board feedback with caregivers and work closely with our partners to support them,” he added.