Dedicated help centre for Taman Jurong seniors

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam (at right) with Taman Jurong residents and Cluster Support beneficiaries Madam Lau Kang Ngoh, 69, and her husband Ching Chen Chooi, 89, at NTUC Health's new Cluster Support office.
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam (at right) with Taman Jurong residents and Cluster Support beneficiaries Madam Lau Kang Ngoh, 69, and her husband Ching Chen Chooi, 89, at NTUC Health's new Cluster Support office.PHOTO: NTUC HEALTH

Senior citizens in Taman Jurong now have a dedicated space from where they can be connected with the services they need, with social enterprise NTUC Health officially opening its Cluster Support office there yesterday.

The office marks NTUC Health's third year under the Government-initiated programme, which streamlines the delivery of help to elderly residents living alone with little or no family support.

Cluster Support staff, known as Care Managers, make house visits to assess these residents' needs; they then help to coordinate the various services that the residents need.

These could include liaising with social service offices, hospitals, and grassroots organisations.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said, at the opening of the Yung An Road office, that the scheme provides seniors with a more personalised service.

Noting the single point of contact, he added: "This means a seamless process and less anxiety to the seniors."

He said there are a growing number of seniors living alone: "The number of people aged 65 and above who live by themselves has nearly tripled over the last 15 years to more than 42,000 last year, up from 14,500 in 2000.

"By 2030, there are likely to be more than 80,000 elderly people living alone."

NTUC Health, which is the appointed cluster operator for Jurong West and Bukit Merah, supports almost 700 seniors in these two zones. More than 270 of them are in Jurong West.

The services they help bring in could range from referring seniors to counselling centres for food rations, getting them an escort to take them to medical appointments, and even getting them household appliances.

The 88 sq m office, located at the foot of Block 361, has been operating since April. NTUC Health's other Cluster Support office, in Bukit Merah, started operations in September.

Ho Ching Road resident Lau Kang Ngoh, 69, was introduced to Cluster Support about a year ago when she was asking about food rations at the senior activity centre.

Her care manager later discovered that her flat was infested with bedbugs. Cluster Support arranged for multiple fumigations, and is now in the process of getting her new furniture.

Madam Lau said in Mandarin: "I didn't really know who to talk to about the bedbugs. Old folks like us don't know where to look for help. But now there are just one or two people I need to call and they will help me work it out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Dedicated help centre for Taman Jurong seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe