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Volunteers roped in to guide, advise vulnerable seniors during coronavirus outbreak

Yuen Sin on 01 Mar 2020

The Straits Times


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A new initiative that marshals volunteers to help vulnerable older folk during the coronavirus outbreak has already paid off for Madam Lim Soong Hiang.


Madam Lim, 66, found herself in a pickle - she had heard that Merdeka Generation seniors like her would have to pay only $5 if they visit Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) for respiratory illnesses, but she could not find the one nearest to her home.


"I'm not good with technology and the Internet, and all the information I could find was in English, which I don't understand well," she said in Mandarin.


The issue was resolved yesterday when volunteers from the Agency for Integrated Care's Silver Generation Office, together with Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, visited Madam Lim's Ang Mo Kio flat.


They helped her locate two PHPCs that were just a block away and gave her tips on precautionary measures in the light of the virus situation, such as washing her hands frequently.


"It's good to know that I can go to these clinics and get subsidies for treatment," said Madam Lim, a retired school bus conductor.


That helpful visit will be one of many over the next few months, when more than 500 volunteers, known as Silver Generation Ambassadors, call on about 27,000 vulnerable seniors to give them advice on how to manage the coronavirus situation, Dr Khor said yesterday.


More than 800 seniors who may be frail, living alone or lacking in social support have been engaged by the ambassadors since the islandwide outreach efforts began last Monday.


"(This group) of seniors may need additional support and assistance as they may not fully understand the various precautionary measures that the Government has taken for Covid-19, as well as the measures they should take to protect themselves," said Dr Khor.


Some may have questions about whether they should postpone appointments with polyclinics for chronic conditions or when they should wear a mask, she said.


She added: "We want to give them assurance when they have concerns and worries."


Retired hawker stall assistant Nooraini Zamzam, 62, was glad to see the volunteers yesterday: "It's scary to see new cases being reported every day, but they also pointed out that patients are recovering from the condition. It makes me feel better about the situation."


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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