Coronavirus: More facilities and activities to ensure well-being of seniors

Volunteers Joel Tan, 44, and Gracia Yap, 45, delivering food to Mr Lim Chin Kiat, an elderly resident in Ang Mo Kio earlier this month. The Health Ministry noted that the prolonged suspension of services may cause seniors with little or no social sup
Volunteers Joel Tan, 44, and Gracia Yap, 45, delivering food to Mr Lim Chin Kiat, an elderly resident in Ang Mo Kio earlier this month. The Health Ministry noted that the prolonged suspension of services may cause seniors with little or no social support to feel isolated.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

There will be more facilities and activities for seniors from June 2 to cater to their psychosocial well-being after the circuit breaker ends, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

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

The ministry said: "In phase one, 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 one to ensure that they stay safe."

Noting that the prolonged suspension of services may cause seniors with little or no social support to feel isolated, the ministry said senior activity centres (SACs) and community resource, engagement and support team (Crest) providers will gradually resume some activities.

These 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 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 operators, community intervention teams, community case management services and cluster support services will continue to be provided in phase one.

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

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 the Care Close to Home programme, home-based components of integrated home and daycare (IHDC) services and interim caregiver services.

Meanwhile, only designated centres will reopen to serve seniors without alternative caregiving arrangements. All other centre-based care services will remain suspended. 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 the ministry.

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 amongst 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 these homes are especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

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 two.

These include reviewing restrictions on visits at residential care homes as well as among different households, and increasing activities of centre-based care services.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday that it could take at least four weeks to exit the first phase and enter the next phase.

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.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'More facilities and activities to ensure well-being of seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe