Caregivers can turn to over 170 eldersitters

Dr Amy Khor and Madam Halimah Yacob at the Caregivers Conference yesterday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
Dr Amy Khor and Madam Halimah Yacob at the Caregivers Conference yesterday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Scheme to give caregivers a break exceeds 2020 target; more help programmes being launched or enhanced

Singapore has more than 170 eldersitters on board, as at last December, to help take care of seniors suffering from dementia and give their caregivers a break, exceeding the initial target of 160 by 2020.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor revealed this as she gave updates of government initiatives to better support the work of caregivers, whose burden is set to rise along with Singapore's rapidly ageing population.

Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, was speaking at the Caregivers Conference yesterday at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

Presidential hopeful Halimah Yacob was also present during the coffee break to mingle with caregivers.

Citing how one in four Singaporeans will be 65 or older by 2030, up from one in seven today, Dr Khor said the Government has been enhancing existing initiatives, introducing new programmes to help caregivers and also reviewing schemes to ensure affordability.

For instance, the Government is on track to achieve its target to grow the number of home- and daycare places from 7,500 and 4,000 places today, to 10,000 and 6,200 places respectively by 2020, and would be increasing the number of dementia daycare services threefold to 3,000 places by 2020, she said.

The number of allied health-led community intervention teams, which provide support to people with mental health conditions and their caregivers, will rise from 14 to 18 teams by 2021.

TEAM EFFORT

We need to work with the community and society at large to build ecosystems of care around our caregivers and their loved ones.

DR AMY KHOR, on how the Government also needs support in the initiatives.

Dr Khor said the Government is also making the respite care programmes more accessible, with nine eldercare centres across Singapore that can take care of seniors for a few hours on weekends and let their caregivers take a break.

Caregivers of seniors with dementia can also tap the Eldersit programme, where these seniors are engaged in cognitive-stimulating activities.

Dr Khor said that as at the end of last year, there were more than 170 eldersitters across four partner organisations who have reached out to over 800 clients. A Straits Times report in April last year said the target was to have 160 eldersitters by 2020.

But she added that the Government recognises "it cannot do this alone". "We need to work with the community and society at large to build ecosystems of care around our caregivers and their loved ones," she said.

She listed the dementia-friendly communities as examples of partnerships in which residents, businesses and other community partners are trained to identify and assist seniors with dementia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Caregivers can turn to over 170 eldersitters'. Print Edition | Subscribe