Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Senior-care centres by PCF in the works

PAP Community Foundation to open senior care centres: PM Lee
PCF's Simei facility will provide health and social care
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

THE People's Action Party (PAP), long associated with kindergartens across the country, is now setting its sights on a network of senior care centres throughout the island.

Its charitable arm, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), will launch its first senior care centre in Simei next year, the first of 10 to 15 such centres it hopes to open in the next five years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a PCF Family Day celebration yesterday.

The centres will provide seniors with health and social care services, and help support family caregivers who are working, to ease the strains of an ageing population, PM Lee said.

The move comes amid efforts by the Government to pay closer attention to the needs of the elderly.

The number of residents aged 65 and above is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

And just as the PAP set up kindergartens in the 1960s to offer good, affordable education, its senior care centres are a response to the need for affordable day- care and rehabilitation services for the elderly, the PCF said.

Mr Lee noted the PCF had been expanding its scope to meet Singapore's evolving needs, such as by offering student care services to help working parents.

"This is how we can help to build a fair and just society. A society where everyone can have the fullest opportunities to succeed, where each one of us plays a part in serving the community, where we all move ahead together, and build a brighter tomorrow together," he said.

He was speaking at Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa, which 10,000 children, parents, and senior citizens toured yesterday.

Keep dying issues alive and kicking

End-of-life care and its quality among the issues a rapidly-ageing society must confront
By Han Fook Kwang, Editor At Large, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Let's talk about dying.

You don't hear this very often because most people would rather not.

Yet death is such a colossal event in the life of any person, it's always been puzzling to me why so little discussion takes place, publicly or privately.

You know it's going to happen and that when it does it's, well, as important as life and death. So how come so few of us think deeply about it?

What exactly happens when one dies, what to do in the last phase of life, how best to prepare for the eventuality?

How far should one go to try and delay death?

The last question especially is one that many will have to face if they are stricken with some terminal disease and have to decide how much medical treatment to get.

Because of the advances in medicine and, aided by modern technology, there is much more that doctors and hospitals can do to prolong life even for the seriously ill.

But how much is enough?

Use your right to BTO flats well

These subsidised homes are a sure way for the young to get into real estate without paying a lot of cash
By Cheryl Ong, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

A close friend, who is an expatriate, once joked with me that he wanted to marry a Singaporean because he would then have a chance to buy a Housing Board flat.

"Where else in the world can you find an asset class that, for the past 20 years, has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of almost 10 per cent," he said cheekily.

His remarks were made in jest but they still left an impression on me: Too many of us seem to take the chance of buying subsidised housing for granted. Perhaps it does not seem like a big deal when more than 80 per cent of the population live in HDB flats.

Over the past few years, news of sell-out private property launches have hogged the headlines. A prolonged period of low interest rates seems to have made an investor out of anyone hoping to pay off his monthly mortgages with income from letting property. I have also subconsciously bought into that dream.

In the past few weeks, I visited some new show suites as research for my work. No matter how many I have been to, the shiny interiors, carefully curated furniture and designer kitchens - also known to me as the most important part of the house - have been very successful at fanning my desires for such a home.

When will I ever be able to own even a one-bedroom unit? I am surely not alone in feeling this way.

A young undergraduate recently asked me how she should diversify her portfolio to include real estate. It seems almost impossible for young graduates with regular jobs, she said. Property prices may have slipped, but they had still shot through the roof over the past five years.

For all my dreams of a kitchen outfitted with Miele appliances, I told her that as a Singaporean, she should buy a Build-To-Order (BTO) HDB flat first if she does not have much to start with.

From the many conversations I have had with seasoned investors, it is clear that the first roll of the property dice is the hardest.

But, unlike diving right into the private market, buying a BTO flat is a sure way to get into the game without stumping up a lot of cash.

New ideas for ageing S'pore

Architect aims to help older folk remain in the community rather than relocate
By Radha Basu, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon wants to spark a conversation about new ways to live, work and play in land-scarce and fast- ageing Singapore.

So he has uploaded a video on YouTube with a host of ideas, from building cheap retirement cottages in Housing Board carparks, to splitting five-room HDB flats into self-contained studios for retirees and starting neighbourhood "care clubs" where active older folk will provide nursing care for the frail.

An adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), his main aim is to find ways to help Singaporeans age in familiar surroundings. His video is the second on new ways to learn, work, age and even farm in the community. The first, on transforming Singapore into an intelligent city, was uploaded last December.

The former head of the Singapore Institute of Architects, Mr Tay, 74, told The Sunday Times that his aim is to let older people remain in their community rather than sell their home and relocate to a smaller flat elsewhere.

There are nearly 405,000 people here aged 65 and above, up from around 250,000 a decade ago. The number is projected to grow to 900,000 by 2030.

Low-income get help to get online

Tablets, high-speed Internet links for 8,000 households for $6 per month
By Irene Tham, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

FOR $6 a month, some low-income households will soon get a tablet computer as well as a high-speed broadband connection, under a move to help poor families go online.

Thanks to a new aid scheme that channels telco fines to the poor, some 8,000 households will benefit from the programme, called Home Access. It draws on a new $10 million Digital Inclusion Fund made up of telco fines, first announced in April.

The fund will help the 8,000 households here with no school-going children and a gross monthly income not exceeding $1,900 to join the information highway over the next four years.

There is no scheme that addresses the technology needs of this group at present.

"This way, our users can make digital videos or calls with their loved ones, surf the Web, and enjoy the many other benefits of IT advancements," said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim during Silver Infocomm Day yesterday at ITE College East.

"As the use of ICT (infocomm technology) becomes ever more pervasive, there is a need to raise the level of adoption of infocomm, especially among the low-income households," he said.

About 5,000 of these households are already receiving financial assistance from the state. They will automatically qualify for the subsidised home broadband plans and tablets. Invitation letters for applications will be sent out from November.

The remaining 3,000 households can apply directly through self-help groups such as the Chinese Development Assistance Council, the Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki from next April.

An existing initiative that makes broadband connectivity and computers more affordable for needy students will also receive a substantial boost.

From November, those who qualify to get computers at a discount of up to 75 per cent will also get broadband links of 100Mbps free for three years.

New mobile app by Singapore Red Cross to teach first aid

First aid instructions at your fingertips
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

A NEW mobile application introduced by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) yesterday aims to put first aid skills at people's fingertips.

The free app gives step-by-step instructions on how to administer first aid in 20 different scenarios, including heart attacks, choking and bleeding.

Users can also watch video demonstrations, take quizzes to test their first aid knowledge and sign up for training courses via the app.

SRC chairman Tee Tua Ba said that in a digital age where many are tech-savvy, it makes sense to introduce such an app, which has received 260 downloads so far. He was speaking at Tampines West Community Club, where the SRC commemorated World First Aid Day, which falls on Sept 13.

While the Red Cross in Britain and the United States have similar apps, the "First Aid by Singapore Red Cross" app provides tips according to local first aid protocol, and allows users to toggle between Singapore's four official languages.

Mobile clinic launched to bring eye care to seniors

Standard Chartered launches Mobile Eye Clinic
TODAY, 27 Sep 2014

Standard Chartered Bank launched the Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) today (Sept 27), Singapore’s first initiative that provides a comprehensive eye care on-the-move programme for senior citizens unable to access healthcare due to physical constraints.

The two-year initiative is a partnership between the bank and the Society of Ophthalmology (SSO) to set up mobile eye clinics in various nursing homes, local community centres and public spaces in housing estates.

The initiative was officially launched today at Bright Hill Evergreen Home, with Minister of State for Health, Dr Lam Pin Min in attendance.

Through MEC’s first two pilot sessions that were conducted earlier this year, over 400 beneficiaries have undergone eye screening to identify cases of uncorrected refractive error, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. With the remaining six sessions which the Bank plans to arrange, the programme targets to benefit a total of 1,600 by September 2016.

Twelve senior citizens identified in the pilot sessions as requiring cataract surgery have since completed surgery at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. The procedures were fully sponsored by the hospital and its team of eye surgeons.

Over 200 pioneers lauded for peace efforts

Singapore's harmony cannot be taken for granted, stress leaders among those feted
By Audrey Tan, the Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

When 72-year-old Lionel De Souza comes across an insensitive remark made against a racial or religious group, he does not ignore it.

He takes action, like making a police report when former NTUC employee Amy Cheong posted an expletive-laden rant on Facebook disparaging Malay weddings in October 2012. The reason he is so cautious is because of his past experiences, he says, urging today's youth not to slip into uttering racial slurs even among friends.

"I witnessed the 1964 riots, and I don't want it to happen again," said Mr De Souza, who is secretary of Hougang's Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC).

"Singaporeans need to know that (misunderstandings) are caused by ignorance. By understanding someone's religion and race, these things won't blow up."

Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in a speech that Singapore's harmony was a miracle, but not one borne out of chance. He said: "Our pioneers... made it happen."

Turning to them, he added: "You helped to create a Singaporean Singapore. You worked hard in your own capacities as religious and community leaders to pave the Singaporean way for social harmony."

Some of those feted yesterday included the first batch of leaders of the IRCCs - a community-level initiative to strengthen inter-faith and inter-ethnic ties and mediate racial and religious conflicts in the community.

New generation of latchkey children

With longer hours in school, children whose working parents return late, are spending less time unsupervised at home
By Venessa Lee, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Strictly speaking, Wei is a latchkey kid for about three hours daily on weekdays. The 13-year-old usually returns from school to an empty flat.

She sets out for school at 6.30am and returns home past 7pm. Her mother, a single parent working two jobs in the food industry, leaves home daily at around the same time, and gets back at 10pm. Wei says this has been routine for about six years.

The term "latchkey children", referring to minors who are unsupervised at home after school, gained currency in Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s. The phrase, laden with stereotypical associations of parental neglect and attendant behavioural problems, is less often applied now, in an era where after-school care programmes have flourished.

Wei is arguably part of a new category of latchkey children. Longer hours spent at school have contributed to such children spending less time without adult supervision than previously, social services providers say.

Mr Mohamed Yunos, a vice-president at Jamiyah Children's Home, says: "Kids will spend more time at school and may get home late. If upper primary students go home at 5pm, for example, parents may not see a need to enrol them in after-school care."

Wei, an only child, says she has a passion for dance, her Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) at school, which ends at 6.30pm, two to three days a week.

"Every day, after school, I've got activities: CCA, basketball, hanging out, self-study, tuition," she says.

Wei, who like other children SundayLife! interviewed did not want to use her full name, gets her own dinner from a coffee shop with the $5 or so that her mother gives her. She adds that she does not want her mum to worry about her, and declares, with a note of pride in her voice, that she moved up to the Express stream from her Normal (Academic) class last year.

When she comes home and there is nobody there, she finds it "a bit lonely, but never mind". "There are financial and family problems, but we shouldn't be affected," says Wei, adding that she has the support of her mum and the workers at the youth outreach dance programme she attends.

Social worker Gwen Koh, 42, decries the term "latchkey children" as being "a very old label with negative connotations". Instead of seeing them as a social problem, she points to the maturity of some young people who might spend two or three hours alone at home.

Jury still out on younger generation of S’pore: ESM Goh

By Laura Philomin, TODAY, 29 Sep 2014

The pioneer generation contributed towards building Singapore into the country it is today, but the jury is still out as to whether the younger generation will be able to build on their achievements, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

“The verdict is out for the older persons, because they have built — in the case of Singapore — what we can see today … the HDB flats, transportation, a cohesive society, harmony between the races. All these were built by older persons when they were young,” said Mr Goh, who made the comments at the launch of a month-long celebration to mark the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) at Marine Parade’s Foo Hai Elderly Lodge.

Citing the Chinese proverb “wealth doesn’t last beyond three generations”, Mr Goh said: “The first generation builds the company, the business and the wealth. The second generation runs it, maintains it. The third generation just spends it. And this applies to a country too ... I’m not saying (the younger generation) can’t do it, I’m saying the jury is out for them.”

Observed on Oct 1 worldwide, IDOP is a day designated by the United Nations to recognise the contributions of older people to society.

The celebrations in Singapore, organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), WeCare@MarineParade, YAH! (Young-At-Heart) and GoodLife! From Montfort Care, are aimed at improving communication with senior citizens.

“We have specially designed postcards and printed tips on effective communication … Through these postcards, we hope to promote effective communication by encouraging more frequent sharing of thoughts between the seniors and their younger loved ones,” NCSS chief executive officer Sim Gim Guan said at the launch.

About 75 volunteers — seniors and students — aim to distribute up to 10,000 postcards to the public to create awareness with regard to IDOP.