What's being done for seniors and people with special needs

Ms Diana Norahman helping her mother up a customised fixed ramp installed at their HDB flat entrance. While the Government is looking at building more integrated developments, many seniors prefer to age in familiar surroundings, noted Senior Parliame
Ms Diana Norahman helping her mother up a customised fixed ramp installed at their HDB flat entrance. While the Government is looking at building more integrated developments, many seniors prefer to age in familiar surroundings, noted Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling. Hence, another prong in the Government's strategy is to retrofit existing Housing Board estates to make them senior-friendly.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

4 ministries' officials supplement MOH announcement of schemes

The announcement of various new schemes by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Parliament yesterday was supplemented by officials from four ministries spelling out what the Government is doing for seniors and those with special needs, and how they can lead healthy, active lives.

SENIOR HOUSING OPTIONS

Several MPs called for more diverse housing options for seniors, including group homes, assisted living services and developments that integrate both housing and care facilities.

While the Government is looking at building more integrated developments, many seniors prefer to age in familiar surroundings, noted Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling.

Hence, another prong in the Government's strategy is to retrofit existing Housing Board estates to make them senior-friendly.

Already, all common areas in newer HDB estates have features such as ramps and barrier-free routes to make it easier for seniors to move around.

Her ministry is also studying how to ensure that private retirement housing properly caters to the intended demographic, and will give more details in due course.

PARENTAL CONCERNS

Parents know that they will not always be able to take care of their children, and they hope that their children will be able to find and hold on to good jobs, and live independently despite their special needs.

MR SAM TAN, Minister of State for Social and Family Development, on helping those with special needs live independently.

PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

More will be done to help those with special needs live independently, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan.

His ministry is aware that many caregivers of special needs students worry about what will happen after their children complete their studies in special needs schools.

"Parents know that they will not always be able to take care of their children, and they hope that their children will be able to find and hold on to good jobs, and live independently despite their special needs," Mr Tan said.

His ministry is studying these issues and will elaborate on its plans in the upcoming parliamentary debate on its budget, he said.

It will also disclose details of plans to provide better social assistance in cases of complex needs.

VOLUNTEERISM

Senior volunteerism rates have gone up, and seniors have a wealth of experience that they can tap to give back to society.

This includes providing advisory services to voluntary welfare organisations, said Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann.

 
 
 

She gave the example of the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership's BoardMatch programme, which reaches out to professionals across various industries to identify people who can be leaders in non-profit organisations.

The Government is also working with the arts and sports communities to develop activities that help seniors build social bonds and stay healthy as they age, Ms Sim said.

FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Companies can retain talent by adopting flexible work arrangements that let valuable employees take time off when needed for family commitments, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling.

Her ministry will continue to encourage companies to adopt such flexible arrangements, she said.

Mr Henry Kwek, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, suggested: Why not legislate such arrangements?

Ms Low replied that the Government will first have to study the potential impact of passing such a law.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'What's being done for seniors and people with special needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe