Wednesday 8 February 2012

More help for low-income elderly in MacPherson

By Evelyn Choo, Channel NewsAsia, 6 Feb 2012

A S$150,000 fund to help low-income elderly residents of MacPherson will be launched later February.

One in three residents in MacPherson is aged 50 and above, and about 1,400 of them live alone. This represents about eight per cent of Singapore's silver population.

The constituency's Member of Parliament, Ms Tin Pei Ling, said the fund will help subsidise some of the health care expenses of those aged 50 and above.

Ms Tin was speaking to reporters at a media briefing ahead of a ministerial community visit by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, S Iswaran.

She said: "We hope that with this MacPherson CARE fund, seniors in MacPherson can look forward to tapping on this fund to relieve some of the financial stress they may feel when seeking medical follow-ups."

Ms Tin and her team of grassroots leaders believe that some of the elderly residents struggle financially, even when it comes to caring for their health.

She said: "Some of them may not have been aware of the national schemes that they can benefit from. Some of them are still worried about the amount that they have to pay even after the subsidies."

The new fund will subsidise various health and medical expenses - from eye care and dental care, hearing and walking aids, to non-critical medical conditions.

This is likely to benefit elderly residents who have applied for assistance under national schemes and are sometimes asked to wait for over a month.

Goh Khon Chong, chairman of the MacPherson Citizens' Consultative Committee, said: "We will be in a quicker position to assess their needs because we have our Residents' Committees networks. So with that, we can make quick decisions probably in less than a week, maybe in two or three days, we'll be able to disburse the fund."

A successful applicant may receive a maximum payout of S$200 for each expense, capped at S$300 per year. Ms Tin said this figure will be reviewed in the next six months.

The constituency will also set up a help desk where Meet-the-People Sessions are held to attend to these applicants.

Besides schemes for the elderly, residents can also expect more changes.

A task force has been set up to provide a semi-formal platform for youths residing in MacPherson to design programmes for the constituency.

And at the heart of the constituency is the MacPherson Community Club, which will be closed in March for upgrading. Built in 1981, the MacPherson CC is 31 years old and was last upgraded in 1995. Residents can expect more space for interaction, barrier-free access, and new amenities when upgrading works are completed in July 2013.

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