Sunday 29 December 2013

5 more estates get grant for features to help the elderly

Impressed with proposals, MOH awards 2 more grants than planned
By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2013

FIVE more estates have been awarded the $50,000 City for All Ages grant to enhance their elderly-friendly features.

There had been eight applications for the remaining three grants this year, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health told The Straits Times earlier this week.

But due to the quality of the proposals, the Ministry of Health (MOH) decided to award two more grants than budgeted for, she revealed.

The ideas that caught the attention of the City for All Ages committee, who come from the public, private and people sectors, include a "Seniors Academy" at Bukit Batok East where the teachers are themselves above 60 years of age.

Kembangan-Chai Chee wants to tie up with the Institute of Mental Health to keep depression in the elderly at bay, while MacPherson is looking at door-to-door health-screening for those who find it hard to move around.

Kampong Glam, meanwhile, will give small incentives to seniors whose health shows improvement through exercise.

Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng wants to replace the bamboo pole holders in rental flats to make it easier for the elderly to hang their laundry.

Dr Khor said she was quite surprised by the novelty of the ideas from the various towns, adding that they were beyond her expectations.

These five estates join the seven which got the grants in July, along with four others which were part of the pilot scheme since its launch in 2011.

The $50,000 grant, which is disbursed over two years, can be used for a range of improvements to support three key objectives: safety and security, health and wellness, and social support.

Some ideas implemented during the pilot have gone national.

The most notable is a programme in which homes of elderly people are retrofitted with grab bars and non-slip floors.

Called the Enhancement for Active Seniors or EASE the initiative has its roots in Marine Parade. But it has since been made available by the Housing Board to all of its flats.

Under the scheme, residents pay between 5 and 12.5 per cent of the cost of adding these age-friendly items, depending on the flat's size. As of September, 14,300 flats have been signed up with EASE.

Estates awarded the grant are encouraged to do a town audit to see what needs improvement and carry out a survey to find out what its seniors want.

These include little things that can make life difficult, such as steep ramps that can be a danger for wheelchairs and prams, bus stop seats which slope, making it difficult for the elderly, or uneven floor surfaces, which make walking difficult.

Dr Khor said the $50,000 is not a great sum, but it helps to motivate people.

She revealed that money for improvements also often comes from other sources, such as the HDB for the EASE programme and from the town council as part of its estate upgrading.

MOH plans to put all the successful ideas into a booklet to share with the rest of the country.

Making life better for all
By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2013

THE City for All Ages scheme awards $50,000 grants to estates for improvements in three areas: safety and security, health and wellness, and social support.


Madam Helen Lee, 75, was afraid of stumbling in the dark when she had to get up at night to use the toilet, so she would leave a light on all night at her one-room Bukit Merah View rental flat.

Under the scheme, a light switch was installed near her bed. "It's so convenient - I can reach it while still in bed," she said.

Another popular improvement is to coat slippery drain covers with an anti-slip surface. More than 800 drain covers in estates such as Marine Parade have been given an anti-slip coating, or replaced with anti-slip covers.


Subsidised health screening, often done in conjunction with the Health Promotion Board or hospitals, is a top choice under this category. The screenings are often followed up with visits by nurses to help seniors control chronic conditions.

Siglap has also started low-cost traditional Chinese and Indian medicine consultations once a month.


Volunteers in Bedok and Whampoa, often seniors themselves, pay visits to the elderly who live alone.

Tanglin-Cairnhill has a monthly "cooking for a cause" session where volunteers cook and deliver free meals to about 100 needy seniors.


2011: Bedok, Marine Parade, Taman Jurong and Whampoa

July 2013: Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Hong Kah North, Queenstown, Siglap, Tampines Central and Tanglin-Cairnhill

December 2013: Bukit Batok East, Kembangan-Chai Chee, MacPherson, Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng and Kampong Glam

New ways for elderly in Hong Kah to stay active
By Lee Jian Xuan, The Sunday Times, 29 Dec 2013

Senior citizens in Hong Kah North now have two new facilities to look forward to, thanks to responses in recent surveys done to identify how the area could be more elder-friendly.

Yesterday, a senior citizens' fitness corner and an active ageing club were launched by Senior Minister of State for Health and Member of Parliament for the constituency, Dr Amy Khor.

Noting that almost a third of the estate's residents are aged 50 and above, she stressed that feedback from such surveys - conducted by grassroots leaders and residents - is important.

In July, an audit by grassroots leaders reached out to about 800 senior citizens.

It yielded suggestions like installing railings for pavements and sloped walkways, more benches for resting, drain covers to prevent falls, bigger fonts for words on signboards and levelling of uneven surfaces.

Audits are still ongoing and improvements will be carried out by the town council, grassroots leaders and other relevant agencies, said Dr Khor.

An ongoing survey of 300 elderly respondents also found that 78 per cent are interested in social activities, while 39 per cent indicated interest in brisk walking and other healthy exercises. To this end, the fitness corner and active ageing club were set up.

The club will offer activities like IT training and movie screenings, and have befrienders' groups, where more active elderly folk can socialise with the frail.

At yesterday's event, Dr Khor went on a town audit of the blocks near Bukit Batok Street 31.

She was accompanied by grassroots leaders and residents like Mr Mohamed Noor Anuwar Hussin , 56, who is unemployed and uses a wheelchair.

"It's good that they are looking into how to make the ramps less steep, because it's hard for me to wheel up them sometimes," said Mr Noor, a Hong Kah resident of six years.

Dr Khor also noted that Mr Noor has to take detours when moving about.

She also outlined plans for more social support programmes for seniors and caregivers, as well as chronic disease health screenings.

"This will enable seniors to tackle health problems through early detection," she said.

Hong Kah North won a grant of up to $50,000 from the Health Ministry to enhance its elder-friendly features in July, under the City for All Ages initiative.

Five other constituencies - Bukit Batok East, Kembangan-Chai Chee, MacPherson, Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng and Kampong Glam - were also awarded similar grants this month.

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