MOH seeking to boost support for caregivers of seniors

Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong taking part in a workout with seniors and caregivers during a "Happy Kopitiam" session at Kaki Bukit Ville Residents' Committee Centre yesterday. The sessions, organised by Montfort Care, aim to help par
Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong taking part in a workout with seniors and caregivers during a "Happy Kopitiam" session at Kaki Bukit Ville Residents' Committee Centre yesterday. The sessions, organised by Montfort Care, aim to help participants keep mentally and physically healthy.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

A review is under way to improve support for caregivers of seniors.

The initiative includes looking at ways to empower caregivers and make it easier for them to find the support they need, said Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong yesterday.

He noted the growing need for caregivers among Singapore's rapidly ageing population.

"We want the elderly to age in place, and to do that we must have a strong caregiver support system," he said. "I think there are some gaps, so we want to review it (and) see how we can strengthen it."

The Ministry of Health (MOH) started consulting caregivers, care providers and other industry professionals for the review last month. It expects to complete consultations by the end of the year and put out a set of recommendations next year.

By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be over 65. At the same time, smaller family sizes mean that the old-age support ratio will drop from 4.8 to 2.1 in that time.

Mr Tong said many caregivers are not young and may find the work physically demanding.

STRENGTHENING THE SYSTEM

We want the elderly to age in place, and to do that we must have a strong caregiver support system... I think there are some gaps, so we want to review it (and) see how we can strengthen it.

MR EDWIN TONG, Senior Minister of State for Health, noting the growing need for caregivers among Singapore's rapidly ageing population.

"Sometimes, getting peer support is a challenge," he said, adding that it is important to ensure caregivers know where to look for help.

"It's well and good to have broad systemic options, but it's of no use if caregivers don't know about them," he said.

Mr Tong was speaking on the sidelines of a community engagement event for seniors and caregivers in Bedok North.

The "Happy Kopitiam" sessions, organised by social service organisation Montfort Care, aim to help participants keep mentally and physically healthy.

Madam Ang Ah Gek, 60, attends the sessions each week and finds that they help her to relieve the stress of caring for her 81-year-old mother.

 
 
 

"It's difficult to care for her," said Madam Ang, who is on long-term medical leave because of a knee problem. "It is a lot of stress for me."

Ms Lin Aiting, director of Montfort Care, said that the demands of caregiving often result in physical and mental stress on those who provide such care.

Caregivers also may not know how to get their loved ones with dementia out of the house and involved in community events, she added.

"Happy Kopitiam provides a fun and safe platform for seniors, caregivers and members of the public to talk about ageing matters and concerns," Ms Lin said.

Those who want to give feedback for the review of support for caregivers of seniors can e-mail the MOH at wecare@moh.gov.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'MOH seeking to boost support for caregivers of seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe