More than 200 residents benefit from healthcare on wheels
Elderly benefit from Singapore Red Cross' community healthcare programme
The sight of an elderly woman carrying a large pair of scissors to a community healthcare programme was worrying for Singapore Red Cross social worker Su Huiting.
As one of the 60 healthcare professionals that help with the humanitarian organisation's Community Health on Wheels programme, she listens to elderly residents to see if they need help, be it financial or emotional.
Ms Su, 30, heard about the elderly woman from another social worker.
Carrying a pair of scissors was unusual, she said, and the woman could be paranoid, feeling insecure, or even suicidal.
"It is these things that we observe and flag up, so subsequently we can work with the relevant agencies to help them."
More than 200 residents have benefited from the new programme, which was launched at the Tampines West Community Club yesterday. The mobile healthcare programme aims to bring free talks, counselling, check-ups and nutritional assessments to the elderly in the heartlands every weekend.
It was introduced to places such as Yishun and Chong Pang in June.
A van with basic medical diagnostic and therapy equipment, sponsored by transport operator SMRT, follows the programme around, in case the elderly require more privacy.
Yesterday, guest of honour Masagos Zulkifli, MP for Tampines GRC and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said that elderly care is set to be a pressing issue with Singapore's ageing population.
There are more than 500,000 people in Singapore aged 65 and above. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 900,000, said the minister.
"A key part of supporting this growing population is about the community taking care of the community. Because there is nothing that beats a neighbour caring for another," he said.
The volunteer-driven initiative is supported by some 60 healthcare professionals from the Singapore Red Cross' (SRC's) volunteer networks. These include nurses and social work networks.
Mr Benjamin William, secretary general and chief executive of SRC, said that the initiative was in line with the mission of the Red Cross to help the most vulnerable in society.
He said in the SRC's experience, there were many elderly people living alone with chronic problems, but taking care of these illnesses did not seem to be a priority for them.
"Many were more concerned about putting food on the table. It was also difficult for some of them to visit the polyclinics for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. So we want to bring such healthcare services to them," he said.
The Red Cross plans to extend the programme to migrant workers in the future.