Coronavirus: Vulnerable seniors being supported during circuit breaker

Social service agencies, volunteer networks continue to provide essential aid: Minister

A network of volunteer groups and ground-up movements, coordinated by the National Council of Social Service, has been distributing meals, masks, disinfectants, sanitiser, exercise bands, telecommunications equipment and SIM cards to seniors. ST PHOT
A network of volunteer groups and ground-up movements, coordinated by the National Council of Social Service, has been distributing meals, masks, disinfectants, sanitiser, exercise bands, telecommunications equipment and SIM cards to seniors. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Seniors in need are continuing to receive help as social service agencies and volunteer networks providing essential aid remain active during the circuit breaker period.

For example, a network of volunteer groups and ground-up movements, coordinated by the National Council of Social Service, has been distributing meals, surgical masks, disinfectants, sanitiser, exercise bands, telecommunications equipment and SIM cards to seniors, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee told a press conference yesterday.

"Through these distributions, the volunteers take the opportunity to guide seniors on the necessary precautions that need to be taken such as frequent hand washing, and check if the seniors need any other assistance such as transport to their medical appointments," he said.

This is being done with minimal movement and interaction of people on the ground, he added.

He said his ministry is also joining other agencies on safe distancing patrols to advise seniors to wear masks and stay home as much as possible.

Officers on these patrols also identify seniors who need help, such as those who have issues preventing them from staying at home, Mr Lee said. "If they have mental health issues, they'll be referred to the relevant agencies for further support, including to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) for follow-up."

Giving an update on efforts to ensure seniors who live alone do not become socially isolated, Mr Lee said the Silver Generation Office (SGO) has been calling vulnerable seniors to ensure they are informed of developments, and also to check in on their well-being and their needs.

It has reached out to about 20,000 seniors living alone this way and will continue to call regularly to support them, Mr Lee said.

The latest available estimates by the Department of Statistics show that in 2018, there were about 58,000 seniors who live alone.

 
 
 

Mr Lee added that the seniors who were engaged by SGO, including those who have weak social or family support, were receptive.

"Following up from these calls, SGO is working with some 450 public service volunteers to run errands for these seniors who require assistance outside the home during this period, and some 1,200 seniors have requested assistance and are being helped in this way for meal deliveries, financial assistance and befriending services."

Mr Lee said those who need assistance can contact the AIC on 1800-650-6060.

And those who need psychological and emotional support can also call the 24-hour National Care Hotline on 1800-202-6868, he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2020, with the headline 'Vulnerable seniors being supported during circuit breaker'. Subscribe