Forum: Govt and community partners work closely to help needy seniors

An engagement clinic held by the Silver Generation Office to reach out to members of the Merdeka Generation.
An engagement clinic held by the Silver Generation Office to reach out to members of the Merdeka Generation.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

We agree with Ms Lam Yin Yin that it is important to ensure that seniors in need get easy access to help (Ensure needy seniors know where to get social assistance, Oct 9).

This is possible with a strong network of support involving government agencies, community partners and members of the public.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development has a network of 24 Social Service Offices (SSOs) across Singapore to provide comprehensive and coordinated help.

The SSOs connect elderly ComCare beneficiaries with social and community services such as home-help services and Senior Activity Centres, as well as cash assistance.

SSOs also reach out to those we come across during our community walks who might need help. If members of the public come across seniors who may be in difficulty, we encourage them to call the ComCare hotline on 1800-222-0000.

The Government has stepped up outreach efforts to seniors.

For example, the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care actively reaches out to Singapore citizen seniors, including through door-to-door engagement, to raise awareness of the support available. It also connects seniors to active ageing, befriending and other care and support services through the Community Networks for Seniors programme.

Ms Lam mentioned the minimum income standards from a study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and rightly noted that the elderly have varying needs. We understand that the study is based on qualitative input from a small group of seniors, and includes discretionary expenses that may vary across seniors with different circumstances, health status and lifestyle preferences.

It may also not be meaningful to compare the study's minimum income standards estimate with the ComCare Long-Term Assistance cash assistance rate and Silver Support Scheme payout.

Under this long-term assistance programme, beneficiaries receive cash assistance for basic living expenses and other support, such as help with medical expenses, one-off purchases such as household appliances, and referral to social and community services.

Low-income elderly also receive support from multiple other schemes, such as GST Vouchers and rental subsidies.

We will continue to work to meet our vulnerable seniors' needs and expand our outreach efforts.

Kong Kum Peck

Director

ComCare and Social Support Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Govt and community partners work closely to help needy seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe