$1.35m fund set up for community care groups to develop fun activities for seniors

Seniors will soon be able to take part in more initiatives aimed at easing loneliness and social isolation which were prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Seniors can look forward to more activities to ease their loneliness and social isolation, thanks to a new $1.35 million fund that community care organisations can tap.

At the launch of the fund on Friday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak said social isolation among the elderly is a key concern as it is linked with poor physical and mental health.

“The current funding for the community care sector in Singapore generally supports capital expenditure, provision of essential medical care services to seniors, and solutions to increase staff productivity,” he said.

But the Fun! Fund will help organisations think of new ways for the seniors they serve to have fun, he added.

“We believe that participation in fun activities encourages seniors to feel connected, maintain their curiosity to seek new experiences, increase their life satisfaction and general sense of well-being, and bring much needed laughter and feel-good feelings for seniors.”

The fund was set up by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

Organisations can apply for a grant of up to $50,000 for each project, which should encourage seniors to be active, connect with others and keep learning.

The programmes must be easily sustained and replicated by different organisations and allow for the building of staff and volunteer capabilities.

The new fund is part of an agreement signed by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore on Friday to collaborate on initiatives to promote active ageing and business continuity for the community care sector.

The three-year partnership will focus on active ageing initiatives, supporting community care organisations in enhancing community spaces for seniors’ social activities, manpower development and recognition, and allow staff to continue operating in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kenny Low, the executive director of City Harvest Community Services Association, which runs a senior activity centre, said his organisation plans to scale up its Rummikub friendly competition, which it has organised for 130 seniors from six active ageing centres.

Similar to mahjong, the table tile game helps to prevent dementia as it requires hand-eye coordination and the manipulation of numbers.

He is also toying with the idea of a gesture remote-controlled car competition to encourage seniors to move about and visualise the motion of the cars, he said.

Sree Narayana Mission chief executive S. Devendran said he is keen to get young people on his team to brainstorm ideas and also join in the activities with seniors.

“When we think of fun, the most fun we had was when we were young. I’ll prompt them (the youth volunteers) with the tagline: When was the last time you did something fun for the first time?”

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