Senior-centric activities for up to 5 people, such as exercise sessions, can resume; singing classes not allowed

Small group activities of up to five people may now resume in eldercare facilities such as nursing homes and senior care centres. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - More senior-centric activities will resume from Wednesday (Sept 9) for the seniors' psycho-social well being, given that community infection rates have generally remained low and stable.

However, seniors still have to remain vigilant, conscientiously practise good hand hygiene and safe distancing, and keep to a small regular circle of contacts when going out, the multi-ministry task force announced in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

Small group activities of up to five people may resume for senior-centric programmes organised by the People's Association, Health Promotion Board, Sport Singapore, and the Council for Third Age.

These activities will also be allowed to resume in eldercare facilities such as nursing homes and senior care centres, the task force announced.

Some examples of these group activities include board games, classroom activities and group exercise classes.

However, singing classes will still not be allowed as it is understood to be a high-risk activity, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said.

Previously, activities in such settings were limited only to those that can be done individually so as to minimise interactions.

However, given that group activities play an integral part to address the psycho-social needs of seniors, the restrictions will be eased from Wednesday so as to allow more seniors to benefit from these programmes.

Safe distancing measures have to remain.

Director of medical services at the Health Ministry Kenneth Mak said: "We were more cautious in the senior setting because the seniors are more vulnerable... We'll continue to watch this carefully, and as time progresses, assess whether it's possible for us to progressively... do more activities."

Additionally, the task force announced proactive outreach by Silver Generation Ambassadors, senior activity centres, community resource, engagement and support teams and diabetes outreach activities will resume from Wednesday, with safe distancing measures in place.

The outreach programmes will proactively engage seniors with care needs and render assistance in a timely manner as not all seniors may know about where to seek help, and may have deferred accessing community care services.

Associate Professor Mak also added that the task force is also piloting the use of wastewater testing in some nursing homes in order to find out any signs of cryptic infections in those settings.

"So far we have not found any… we'll watch the senior activity centres closely to determine whether there's a need to extend surveillance beyond just the close watch of the health of our seniors," Prof Mak said.

Seniors are also urged to turn up for their medical appointments so as to avoid deterioration of their conditions, the task force stressed.

Healthcare providers would have put in place the necessary precautions for patients to access services and receive treatments in a safe manner.

Older patients in need of assistance may reach out to their respective public healthcare institutions or contact the Agency For Integrated Care on 1800-650-6060.

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