April 18, 2011

SINGAPORE: Immobile elderly to get more help

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SINGAPORE / ChannelNewsAsia / Singapore News / April 18, 2011

By Vimita Mohandas

NTUC Eldercare said it would provide 500 mobility aids to the first 500 eligible elderly citizens and cover the co-payment of about S$25,000. This came as NTUC Eldercare became the first organisation to tap into the Senior's Mobility Fund (SMF) to get elderly citizens items such as wheelchairs and walking frames.

The S$10 million fund was announced last month by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Elderly people in Singapore

Ten elderly citizens received help on Monday to be more mobile.

One of them was 55-year-old Bassir Abdullah, who has been confined to his one-room flat for years.

He suffers from multiple health conditions including diabetes and is unable to afford a wheelchair.

But things have changed with a wheelchair provided by NTUC Eldercare using the SMF.

Moving around would be much easier for Mr Bassir with his new wheelchair.

As Singapore faces an ageing population, the number of elderly seeking such assistance is expected to rise.

About 30,000 people qualify for subsidies under the fund.

To determine the types of mobility aids suitable for applicants, they have to go through a financial assessment as well as clinical needs assessment.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government will work with voluntary welfare organisations to help more people if there's a need.

"Even a low-cost basic wheelchair can help them resolve this problem but they told us they can't afford it," Mr Khaw said.

"The money is there -- S$10 million. And if we need to exceed this S$10 million, we will expand it.

"The key now is to translate this into real action, so we are working very closely with VWOs."

Besides NTUC Eldercare, at least five other organisations have applied for the fund.

They include the Society for the Physically Disabled and the Asian Women's Welfare Association (AWWA) Ready Care Centre.

Other VWOs include Ang Mo Kio Thye Hua Kwan, St Andrew Community Hospital and TOUCH Community Services.

-CNA/wk

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