PM Lee praises 3,000 for reaching out to elderly

PM Lee Hsien Loong with Madam Lim Beck, 108, looking at a photograph taken of her moments earlier. They are both seen here with PM Lee's wife, Madam Ho Ching (in red T-shirt), Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo (far righ
PM Lee Hsien Loong with Madam Lim Beck, 108, looking at a photograph taken of her moments earlier. They are both seen here with PM Lee's wife, Madam Ho Ching (in red T-shirt), Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo (far right) and Minister of State for Defence and National Development Maliki Osman (second from right). Madam Lim is one of 50 pioneers featured in a book which PM Lee launched last night.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Volunteers visited 120,000 pioneers to explain govt healthcare benefits to them

In the past 10 months, 3,000 volunteers quietly visited 120,000 pioneers at home to tell them about the benefits of new national healthcare programmes.

Many of these seniors live alone, suffer various ailments and are rarely seen at community events.

Reaching out to them is a difficult task, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night at a dinner to show appreciation for the volunteers' dedication and hard work.

"You embody the Singapore spirit of kindness, respect and a sense of shared responsibility," he told 1,600 of the volunteers.

These Pioneer Generation Ambassadors come from all walks of life: Students, housewives, professionals, retirees and even fellow pioneers.

They visit the pioneers at home and explain the benefits they will receive under the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) and the MediShield Life plan which provides for lifelong health insurance.

The PGP is a good policy, said Mr Lee, but no matter how well intended it is, "we still must make the effort for pioneers to understand it, so they can take advantage of it".

The volunteers have a difficult job, he noted.

They must master the details of the policies and communicate the details simply and clearly, in terms that make sense to the elderly.

Serving pioneers also takes passion, patience and commitment, as it takes time to learn how to

interact with the elderly, particularly if they live in different circumstances and speak a less familiar language, he said.

Mr Lee praised the volunteers for involving these seniors in the community, ensuring that their daily needs can be met, accompanying them to clinics when they are ill and returning to check on them, and lending them a listening ear.

At the dinner, Mr Lee also launched a book with stories of 50 pioneers who the ambassadors met on their home visits.

More than 40 of these pioneers were present at the dinner.

Mr Lee said their stories would remind Singaporeans of how far the country has come, and hoped they would inspire the younger generation to build on their legacies.

"In less than a fortnight, we will be celebrating National Day. It is a good time to reflect on what kind of society we want to build," he said.

"Pioneers made sacrifices for one another and for the nation, and we need that spirit to continue in this generation and future generations," he added.

Mr Lee also noted: "Through their service and selfless dedication, Pioneer Generation Ambassadors embody the very same values and spirit that pioneers upheld to make Singapore a better home for all of us."

Mr Lee urged more Singaporeans to join the programme and keep the Singapore spirit alive.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'PM Lee praises 3,000 for reaching out to elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe