Tuesday 28 February 2012

Health-care fund for the needy elderly in MacPherson

By Phua Mei Pin, The Straits Times, 27 Feb 2012

A FUND subsidising the health-care expenses of the needy elderly in MacPherson was launched yesterday by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran.

The $150,000 fund will give up to $300 a year in cash reimbursement for medical bills.

The launch of the MacPherson Care Fund capped off the ministerial community visit by Mr Iswaran, who is an MP for West Coast GRC, to the MacPherson division in Marine Parade GRC.

These visits are conducted once a month for ministers to get a better understanding of a constituency other than their own.

During a dialogue session with more than 300 MacPherson residents, Mr Iswaran lauded the Care Fund and other initiatives in the division as complementing the national thrust to support the elderly, lower-income and disabled.

Residents shared their thoughts on issues ranging from long term health-care costs and integrating foreign workers, to encouraging family cohesion and the cost of housing.

Mr Iswaran encouraged the residents to keep up the dialogue between government agencies and community groups.

'We need to work together... not just to deliver services but also to understand new needs on the ground,' he said.

Earlier in the morning, he went on a whirlwind visit through the mature estate, where one in three of the roughly 47,000 residents is aged 50 or above.

He was also introduced to a slew of other initiatives for the elderly. These included Project Angelz, where volunteers help the elderly through activities like repainting homes and changing light bulbs.

Another project, Say 'No' to Fall, assesses the elderly residents' risks of falling at home with an aim to modify their surroundings to increase their safety.

While the focus was on the elderly, the energy was youthful, as the bulk of the volunteers were young faces. Project Angelz is run by the Youth Executive Committee in MacPherson, and the other project is spearheaded by 50 students from the Institute of Technical Education College East.

Among the young faces was 28-year-old Marine Parade GRC MP Tin Pei Ling, the adviser to the grassroots organisations in MacPherson. She hosted the visit and is also the creator of the MacPherson Care Fund.

Joining the visit were other MPs from Marine Parade GRC - Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Dr Fatimah Lateef.

The GRC's most senior MP, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, also dropped in, showing particular attention to the initiatives to benefit the elderly.

Resident and volunteer Siti Moonsifah ran through the full 17-page fall risk survey with ESM Goh, and later told reporters: 'He is in very good health.'

More help for low-income elderly in MacPherson

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