Reach out to seniors, but give advance notice

Ms Punitha Govindasamy's experience ("No photo of customer needed for parcel delivery"; Aug 7) reminds me of an encounter I had in May.

I returned home at noon on May 21 and found two Pioneer Generation (PG) Ambassadors about to leave the flat.

We had received no prior notice of their visit.

My mother explained later that she felt compelled by their urging to let them into the flat.

During their sharing on the PG Package, the ambassadors had asked my mother some personal questions and asked to see some personal documents.

At the end of the session, they insisted on taking a photograph of my parents with one of them, as proof of their visit.

My parents were unwilling but felt obliged to comply. The ambassadors later deleted the photo at my request.

While it is considerate of the volunteers to reach out to seniors in the comfort of their own homes, it is a basic courtesy for a visitor to give advance notification of his visit.

Mailers could have been sent to households in advance, with an option to call a hotline to confirm or reschedule the date of the visit.

The mailer could also advise on the programme for the visit and highlight that the ambassadors are authorised to receive personal information and view personal documents.

Seniors should be given the option of opting out of any part of the house call.

As a safety precaution, some of us advise our elderly parents against allowing strangers into our homes, even if they claim to be representatives of the Government. Identification cards are not always helpful to illiterate seniors.

Hence, the ambassadors should not press to enter a home.

Likewise, photographs should be taken only when the subjects are willing. Surely there are alternatives for proof of visit.

Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Reach out to seniors, but give advance notice'. Print Edition | Subscribe