Tuesday 23 July 2013

Senior-friendly scheme extended to 7 more constituencies

By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 22 Jul 2013

SEVEN more constituencies have joined the City for All Ages scheme, which aims to make estates more liveable for elderly residents.

Chua Chu Kang was the first of the seven to receive $80,000 under the programme. It marked the occasion with a health screening yesterday for 200 residents, who paid just $2 each.

The other constituencies are Bukit Panjang, Hong Kah North, Queenstown, Siglap, Tampines Central and Tanglin-Cairnhill.

The programme was first set up in 2011, and there are plans to involve the whole country, said Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor, head of the City for All Ages project.

She had earlier announced that the scheme will be extended to another 10 constituencies this year. So, there is still money for three more to sign up.

But should more apply and they have good ideas for making their estates more elderly-friendly, "we will see how we can help them", Dr Khor said on the sidelines of the launch.

The project is being rolled out in phases so that the experiences of pioneering constituencies can help others. After the first phase, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ageing produced a guidebook based on the experiences of Marine Parade, Whampoa, Bedok and Taman Jurong, which took part in the pilot scheme.

The latest seven constituencies to join them will share fundamentals such as health screenings and town audits to see what the elderly need. But they will also try new ideas such as seeing what seniors need in their homes beyond the grab bars, non-slip floors and ramps which the Housing Board already subsidises, said Dr Khor.

For instance, they are looking at whether lever handles on water taps may be easier for older residents to use, and if stools can help them get in and out of bed safely.

Chua Chu Kang will involve students to find out the needs of the elderly, and to promote healthy living. She said: "This will foster inter-generational bonding."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, an MP for the area, hopes to enlist around 200 youth ambassadors from neighbourhood schools to spread the message.

Speaking at the health fair at the Chua Chu Kang Community Club yesterday, he told residents: "We hope to make healthy living the norm across generations of Chua Chu Kang residents, and our community in the long run."

The focus is on prevention as well as getting the young involved, given that the proportion of elderly in the estate is below the national average.

Mr Gan, who also chairs the IMC on Ageing, said the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will reach out to all schools in the area to get them to promote health.

The HPB will work with food outlets in the constituency "to provide healthier food options". Twice a month, the $2 health screening will be made available to people aged 50 and above.

Mr Gan told the 600 people at yesterday's fair: "After screening, residents with chronic conditions will receive health counselling and advice on how to manage their conditions."

Nurses from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital will call the 68 people who discovered they had high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or diabetes, yesterday to advise them on what to do.

Over the next three years, Mr Gan's target is to get at least 30 per cent of older residents in the constituency to go regularly for health screening.


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