Lessons from Bedok's efforts to help seniors age well

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say (left) and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (centre) joining the yoga exercises and attending an event on the Bedok Community For All Ages Journey, a grassroots programme to address the needs of v
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say (left) and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (centre) joining the yoga exercises and attending an event on the Bedok Community For All Ages Journey, a grassroots programme to address the needs of various groups of elderly. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Other towns can learn from Bedok grassroots organisations' efforts to help senior residents age well, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Sunday morning during a visit to Bedok Sunflower Residents' Committee (RC). He highlighted their partnerships with many organisations, their use of the RC as a platform to help seniors, and their "people-centric" approach as lessons that should be shared with other towns.

Bedok is one of four towns under the Health Ministry's City for All Ages initiative, introduced in 2011 to explore how to create a better living environment for the elderly. Said Mr Gan: "Now we want to take stock of what we have done and we are going down to the implementation pilot sites to learn from (them)."

Bedok's masterplan called Community for All Ages @ Bedok began in July 2012. Mr Gan said he was happy and impressed with its progress, especially in three areas. One was the grassroots organisations' partnership with other players such as the Ministry of Health and volunteer welfare organisations.

Another was how the RC has become a platform for addressing seniors' health needs. Mr Gan said he was especially interested in the Nurse@RC initiative, under which basic health screening and health advice are provided at the RC every Friday evening. The third area is Bedok's "people-centric" rather than "programme-centric" approach, where residents' needs are first assessed before any programmes are decided upon.

"I think this is a very important approach and I'll be sharing some of this with the other CFAA projects to see whether we can share some of the good lessons learnt from each other," said Mr Gan.

Ideas which are first used under the City for All Ages initiative could eventually be taken nationwide, he noted. One example is the Enhancement for Active Seniors programme, which subsidises elderly-friendly fittings such as grab bars for elderly Housing Board residents, which was piloted in the City for All Ages initiative and has since become a national programme.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say, who is an adviser to the East Coast GRC grassroots organisations and was hosting Mr Gan's visit, said that the programmes in Bedok could also be adopted by other wards in East Coast.