Video-conferencing service helps social service clients reach agencies

To save clients with multiple needs the hassle of travelling between different agencies, the Ministry of Social and Family Development is providing video-conferencing services at two Social Service Offices to connect individuals with the agencies the
To save clients with multiple needs the hassle of travelling between different agencies, the Ministry of Social and Family Development is providing video-conferencing services at two Social Service Offices to connect individuals with the agencies they need to speak to.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - To save clients with multiple needs the hassle of travelling between different agencies, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is providing video-conferencing services at two Social Service Offices (SSO) to connect individuals with the agencies they need to speak to.

MSF said plans are under way to set up video-conferencing at more SSOs and include more agencies.

The two SSOs at Geylang Serai and Bedok started their pilot of the service in December last year.

Through it, individuals can speak directly to officers at the Housing Board, SGEnable or the Special Needs Trust Company to have their queries addressed.

This saves them a trip to these agencies, as well as paperwork, as the social service officers at the SSO can forward relevant documents and details to the agencies.

At a visit to the Geylang office on Tuesday (Jan 29), Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan said: "Over the years, we realised that when families or individuals need the service and help from SSO, often they are in a very complex situation. They have many different complex needs.

"With the video-conferencing facilities, we hope to make our SSOs the first port of call and hopefully the only port of call for those who are in need of services and programmes, so that they don't have to run to many places."

 
 

Eight people have used the video-conferencing services at the two SSOs to communicate with HDB officers.

One of them, Ms Tuminah Ahmad, 58, spoke to an HDB officer to request to continue paying a subsidised rental rate after her tenancy is renewed in March.

That same day, HDB sent Ms Tuminah a letter to notify her that her eligibility for the rental reduction was being reviewed.

Ms Tuminah, a diabetes and cancer patient who has to attend multiple medical appointments, said: "The video-conference was good because it was convenient and it did not waste my time. Due to my disease, I'm very weak. If I went to HDB directly, I might have to wait a few hours."

In a similar vein, MSF has been working with government agencies to co-locate complementary services near SSOs.

For instance, in July last year, a Silver Generation Office (SGO) satellite office in MacPherson moved to Geylang Serai to be located near the SSO there.

Their proximity lets officers of both agencies jointly interview elderly residents with complex needs.

These initiatives are in line with MSF's plan to progressively strengthen social service delivery in the coming years.