Coronavirus: More activities for seniors to resume from June 2 for their psycho-social well-being

Activities will be limited to those that can be done individually. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - With the circuit breaker period coming to an end, more facilities and activities for seniors will resume on June 2 to cater to their psycho-social well-being, the Health Ministry said on Friday (May 22).

However, as seniors are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, most precautionary measures affecting them will remain in the initial stage of Singapore's reopening. For example, interest group activities and face-to-face visits in residential care homes will still be suspended.

"In Phase 1, with more activities and interactions, there will likely be a higher risk of community transmission. Therefore seniors should continue to stay at home as much as possible. We will continue with most circuit breaker measures for seniors in Phase 1 to ensure that they stay safe," the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release.

As the prolonged suspension of services may cause seniors with little or no social support to feel isolated, MOH said senior activity centres (SACs) and Community Resource, Engagement and Support Team (Crest) providers will gradually resume some activities, to address their psycho-social well-being.

The activities will be limited to those that can be done individually, such as reading and gardening, and with limits on the duration and total number of people taking part, so as to minimise interactions.

SACs, Crest, befriending and counselling services will be able to resume home visits, while also continuing with phone check-ins on their clients.

Medical escort and transport services, Alert Alarm System (AAS) operators, Community Intervention Teams, Community Case Management Services and Cluster Support services which have been ongoing, will continue to be provided in Phase 1.

Essential services, such as residential care, home care and meals support such as the Meals-on-Wheels programme, will also continue to be provided.

Residential care services include nursing homes, welfare homes, sheltered homes, adult disability homes, psychiatric rehabilitation homes, psychiatric sheltered homes, inpatient hospices and senior group homes.

Home care encompasses home medical, home nursing, home palliative care, home personal care, home therapy, home-based components of Care Close to Home, home-based components of integrated home and day care (IHDC) services and interim caregiver services.

"All centre-based care services will remain suspended, except for designated centres which will serve seniors without alternative caregiving arrangements," said MOH.

These include day hospices, senior care centres, active ageing hubs, centre-based components of IHDC services and psychiatric day centres.

The number of designated centres will be increased if there are more seniors requiring the services, as caregivers return to work, said MOH.

Activities organised by the People's Association, Health Promotion Board, SportSG and the Council for Third Age catering to seniors will remain suspended.

"All other activities that involve physical interactions among seniors, such as interest groups, events, and other gatherings targeted at seniors should also continue to be suspended," said MOH.

Face-to-face visits in residential homes will continue to be disallowed to lower the risk of bringing infection into the homes, as frail seniors living in those homes are especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

"We recognise that this is difficult for seniors and their loved ones, and AIC (Agency for Integrated Care) will continue supporting homes to use phone or video calls for them to keep in touch."

MOH said that if the community transmission rate remains low and stable in the subsequent few weeks, more activities can be expected to resume in Phase 2.

"This includes reviewing the restrictions on visits at residential care homes as well as among different households, and increasing the activities of centre-based care services."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday (May 19) that it could take at least four weeks to exit the first phase and enter the second one.

More details on the range of activities and services to be resumed in the later phases will be announced at a later date, said MOH.

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