Tuesday 14 October 2014

Creating elderly-friendly communities: Guidebook launched

By Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia, 12 Oct 2014

A guidebook on how to create elderly-friendly communities has been published. It is part of the City for All Ages scheme, which already has 16 constituencies under its belt.

Speaking at the book's launch in Whampoa, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said it is hoped that pilot projects under the City for All Ages scheme can be a catalyst to create national programmes. Dr Khor is also heading the City for All Ages project.

Junaidah Salleh is the primary caregiver for her 89-year-old father, who has hypertension and diabetes. His limited mobility means she faces challenges taking him to the Toa Payoh polyclinic, the nearest one in her neighbourhood.

Junaidah said: "It was very hard for me. When I have to go to the polyclinic, I have to take two buses from here, from Whampoa. Even if I have money, I cannot take a cab because nobody is going to carry my father into the cab."

But when a primary care clinic opened right at her doorstep, it became much more convenient for Junaidah. The clinic is situated within the Whampoa Gardens Residents' Committee. The primary care clinic is one initiative under Whampoa's City for All Ages project.

While it is still in its pilot stage, it is hoped that such a programme can be extended to other constituencies. For example, HDB's Enhancement for Active Seniors or EASE programme first started out as a pilot programme in Marine Parade, where seniors' homes were retrofitted with elder-friendly features like grab bars. Today, the EASE programme is available to seniors in all HDB estates.

Dr Amy Khor said that if residents put forth useful, innovative plans, "we think we could implement test beds and see if they can be scaled up, if they have the potential to be scaled up."

"We will look at how we can actually support them in terms of various resources, including if there is a need for some funding, we would be open to look at this," she said.

Each site under the City for All Ages initiative gets a grant of up to $50,000. And to help other constituencies create elderly-friendly spaces, the guidebook illustrates how various projects under the City for All Ages began.

In Whampoa, which is one of four pilot sites for the City for All Ages initiative, townhall forums and health screenings were held to find out how the community could be better supported.

Town audits have also been conducted around Whampoa to identify which parts of the environment could be made more senior-friendly. And to date, about 60 per cent of those observations have been addressed. For example, a gradual ramp was constructed there to make it more accessible for wheel-chairs.

The area's MP, Mr Heng Chee How, said the success of Whampoa's initiatives can also be measured by the relationships built among residents.

"It is this thing about that friendship, that familiarity, that comfort that you have when you come together. So you are amongst friends and family and that sense of community is what keeps people coming back. It is very magnetic," he said.

Over the next two months, sharing sessions on the City for All Ages project will be conducted in the central, northern and southern parts of Singapore.

Healthier, happier lives under City For All Ages scheme
By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 13 Oct 2014

THE 16 estates in the City For All Ages scheme have introduced various initiatives to help seniors lead healthier and happier lives.
- Bedok has engaged a nurse to provide health monitoring and advice to seniors every Friday evening. It also has a body mass index machine, which helps seniors monitor their own health, and senior-friendly exercise machines.
- Bukit Panjang helps elderly residents upgrade their skills through conversational English and computer literacy classes.
- Marine Parade has installed anti-slip drain covers, added seats around the area so seniors can rest, and printed information at bus stops in larger fonts for easier reading.
- Whampoa holds weekly i-Sing & Dance sessions, led by heart surgeon Tan Yong Seng and attended by about 100 participants. Dr Tan gives health talks as well.
- Choa Chu Kang serves fruit at every community activity and has a community garden that is tended by seniors.Siglap offers low-cost traditional Chinese and Indian medicine consultations every month. More than 300 elderly residents have benefited.
- Tanglin-Cairnhill has installed bedside light switches for seniors.
- Tampines Central holds fall-prevention workshops.
- Hong Kah North provides monthly food donations for needy seniors. It also cleans and paints their flats.

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