CDCs will look out for those in need: Mayors

While councils no longer disburse financial aid, they still oversee welfare programmes

Two years ago, the five Community Development Councils (CDCs) handed their task of distributing financial aid to Social Service Offices (SSO) of the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

But the mayors in charge of the CDCs stressed yesterday that these community-building councils will continue to ensure that no resident in need of help will fall through the cracks.

Though it is a challenge, Mayor Teo Ser Luck is confident because CDCs still oversee programmes in which volunteers go to the aid of the elderly and the needy.

CDCs also build community relations in each district, said Mr Teo, who leads the North East District and chairs the Mayors' Committee.

He was speaking to the media before a symposium on how CDCs can remain useful to residents. It was attended by more than 400 district councillors and volunteers.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who spoke at the start of the meeting, offered ideas. ESM Goh noted at least 16 groups and organisations providing social services in constituencies and to the community.

He asked: Can CDCs play a role in coordinating some of these services and ensure people's needs are more conveniently and better met?

He also saw two areas of need. One is the increasing need for home medical care. He urged CDCs to work with the SSOs to think of ways to support volunteers and caregivers who look after elderly patients at home.

"With a rapidly ageing population, better, affordable hospital care and MediShield Life, I foresee hospitals attracting more and more elderly patients like a huge magnet.

"I see the need to put in place a system for nudging patients back to their homes. Most old people prefer that any way."

The second area of need Mr Goh saw is how CDCs can help deliver information and explain complex government policies.

Volunteer Christine Teng, an assistant professor in pharmacy who runs a twice-yearly programme on medicine and disease awareness for elderly patients, agreed.

She said: "My fellow pharmacists, for instance, can keep an eye on elderly patients who tell us their medicines are getting expensive. We can write to the CDCc to let them know of those who need financial help."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'CDCs will look out for those in need: Mayors'. Print Edition | Subscribe