As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child.
With more Singaporeans growing older fast, it will also take a village to care for our seniors.
This is why efforts like the CNS initiative aim to link up health and social services so that seniors get the support they need – not only in hospitals but also in their neighbourhoods and homes.
TEAMWORK IN THE COMMUNITY
A huge network of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO), grassroots and community groups as well as government agencies makes the CNS work smoothly.
By combining the various groups’ strengths and resources, CNS connects them to seniors who need different combinations of social and healthcare services.
And all this is made possible through the hardworking volunteers – such as neighbours – who take on the important role of looking out for their elderly residents in the area. Community volunteers like the Pioneer Generation Ambassadors (PGA) help promote active ageing among healthy seniors, provide emotional support for the seniors who live alone, and refer relevant care providers to frail seniors.
KEEPING WELL AND ACTIVE
PGAs encourage seniors to go for health screenings, join group exercises and take part in social activities with other seniors in their neighbourhood. On top of that, they also help explain government programmes so seniors are aware of the support they have within their community.
OFFERING FRIENDLY SUPPORT
Besides their physical health, seniors’ emotional and psychological health are just as important. This is why the CNS is setting up befriending services, where neighbours can volunteer to visit seniors living on their own. These volunteers may also refer the seniors to other agencies or organisations if they notice that the senior needs additional help.
TYPES OF SENIORS
Active Ageing: Helen Chong, 73
A mother of four and a grandmother of 12, Madam Helen Chong has been living alone since her husband’s passing six years ago. She travels by public transport, often using Google Maps to get directions. Madam Chong exercises each day by talking walks, and keeps up with her grandchildren via Facebook. She stays active by volunteering for activities such as being a befriender with Bethesda Care, and hangs out with her friends.
Befriender: Zainab Saini, 52
Madam Zainab, a home-maker and mother of four, has been volunteering for almost 10 years as a Silver Connect Befriender with the Care Team @ Tampines Changkat; she’s also a PGA. She spends two to three days a week visiting seniors in her neighbourhood and listens to their stories. Through her befriending journey, she has helped many seniors overcome their challenges and get the help they needed.
Care and Support: Kee Kuang Yoh, 77
Retiree Mr Kee Kuang Yoh and his wife (in her early 70s) lived on their own for a few years. Mr Kee has glaucoma, a gastric condition and has trouble walking. Mrs Kee has a spinal condition that keeps her in a wheelchair and also has glaucoma. After Mrs Kee had a fall at home, Mr Kee reached out to a nearby Family Services Centre for assistance to install grab bars and other features to make his home elder-friendly.
Through PGAs, their case was referred to the Community Networks for Seniors, which met the couple to find out their needs. The CNS then got in touch with with groups that can help, such as the Agency for Integrated Care, and various Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs).
HOW CNS HELPS SENIORS IN SINGAPORE
(Click on the image above to enlarge it.)