Wednesday 31 July 2013

Easier for needy elderly to apply for help: Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund

By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 30 Jul 2013

NEEDY elderly people in Singapore are finding it easier to apply for wheelchairs and other aids they require.

Before July 1, all applications for subsidies under the Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund had to be approved by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).

However, under enhancements that kicked in at the start of this month, there are now 114 places where they can get approval for various subsidies under the fund.

These include National Kidney Foundation dialysis centres, community hospitals like the Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital and senior activity centres.

The move has cut processing time from two weeks to about one.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Dr Amy Khor, Mayor of South West District, visited three families who have benefited from the scheme in Marine Parade yesterday.

There have been 702 beneficiaries since the start of the month, which also saw 130 per cent more applications than last month.

"I'm pleased that we are able to provide more assistance to the seniors," said Dr Khor. "We want to continue to work to review our assistance schemes to make help more accessible and easily available to them."

The fund stood at $10 million before being topped up with $40 million, announced in February's Budget.

Elderly people living in three room or smaller flats are automatically eligible for a 90 per cent subsidy on devices that cost $500 or less. They pay the remaining 10 per cent of the cost of the device.

Others can apply if their monthly household income per capita is $1,800 and below. The fund also subsidises transport and consumables like catheters and wound dressings.

Mr Yasmuddin Rasul, 92, has weak knees and moves around in a wheeled office chair at home. He received a new aluminium shower chair yesterday after applying at the nearby GoodLife! Centre in Marine Parade, a new centre that has come on board.

"I haven't tried the chair yet, but I am looking forward to it," said Mr Yasmuddin, who has to sit on the toilet bowl while he takes a shower. The padded chair with non-slip legs will make it easier for him to sit while showering.

ESM Goh said that growing old "should not be a cause for anxiety", adding: "If we can remove this worry of getting old... Singapore would be a good place to grow old in."

For more inquiries about the scheme, call AIC at 6603-6800.

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