East Coast GRC to build support network for seniors

Plan envisions better amenities, community of neighbours looking out for one another

(Clockwise from left) MPs for East Coast GRC - Ms Jessica Tan, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Ms Cheryl Chan and Minister of State Tan Kiat How - at Siglap Community Club for the launch of
(Clockwise from left) MPs for East Coast GRC - Ms Jessica Tan, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Ms Cheryl Chan and Minister of State Tan Kiat How - at Siglap Community Club for the launch of the East Coast Silver Blueprint yesterday. A survey will be conducted for a start to better understand seniors' needs.PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

Seniors in East Coast GRC can look forward to better amenities and a network of caregivers and volunteers they can depend on, under a plan to make the constituency a good place for ageing in.

The East Coast Silver Blueprint, launched yesterday, envisions a town in which all seniors, even if they live alone, will lead active lives with friends in the community and will be looked after by neighbours around them.

For a start, a survey will be conducted to better understand the needs of seniors who live in the constituency. At the same time, town audits will be carried out to look at physical improvements needed to make the area - which covers most of Bedok and Simei Housing Board estates - safer and more accessible for seniors.

Unveiling the blueprint yesterday on Facebook Live, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is an MP for East Coast GRC, urged residents of the constituency to pitch in in their own ways.

He said that this was the spirit behind the Singapore Together movement, which he and his team of fourth-generation political leaders started last year to give regular citizens a bigger say in policymaking.

"Every one of us can make a difference, and coming together we can make a bigger difference," he said.

"Every one of us contributes something, whether within a family, within our neighbourhood or the broader community, and by bringing all of this together, organising this well with a good plan and some shared target, I think we can achieve a lot more."

In East Coast GRC, where four in 10 of the 190,000 residents are aged 50 and above, this will take the form of neighbours looking out for one another as they age.

Elaborating on the blueprint, the other East Coast GRC MPs - Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and for National Development Tan Kiat How, Ms Jessica Tan and Ms Cheryl Chan - spoke about various programmes that the constituency will introduce.

To build up a network of volunteers, grassroots organisations will recruit and train residents who want to befriend and check in on elderly folk who need help.

A Caregiver Support Network will also be set up so that those caring for their aged parents can lean on and learn from one another, and get connected to resources, as well as healthcare and social services.

And with dementia becoming a growing concern as the population grows older, there are plans to make East Coast a dementia-friendly town, with dementia go-to points where lost and wandering people with dementia can be taken to by members of the public.

CALL TO ACTION

Every one of us contributes something, whether within a family, within our neighbourhood or the broader community, and by bringing all of this together, organising this well with a good plan and some shared target, I think we can achieve a lot more.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, an MP for East Coast GRC, urging residents in the constituency to pitch in.

Home audits will also be conducted to look at what can be done to enhance the quality of life of those with dementia.

Mr Heng said it was important to take a preventive approach and to help people stay active and healthy as they age, so that they do not grow frail.

At the national level, the National Research Foundation has added health and human potential as another area of focus, and will be doing research on how babies develop, how children and adults learn, as well as how seniors can keep their minds active and stave off dementia, said Mr Heng, who is chairman of the foundation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2020, with the headline 'East Coast GRC to build support network for seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe