Sunday, July 22, 2012

Providers of eldercare facilities must win community over: Gan Kim Yong

SINGAPORE: Providers of eldercare facilities should work closely with the community, so that residents will accept such facilities and not view them as a burden or liability.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong made this call when he addressed the attitude of "NIMBY" or "Not in My Backyard", amid concerns and unhappiness over the presence of such facilities in the HDB estates.

He said this at the end of a walkabout to Bukit Timah division on Sunday morning.

St Luke's Eldercare centre in Clementi Avenue 4 is an example of how community engagement has convinced residents to accept wellness and eldercare facilities right in their neighbourhood.

The centre also has a park next to it.

The Health Minister said most Singaporeans understand the needs of an ageing population, and accept the need for such facilities within the community.

He said it's inevitable that many of these facilities will be within the community, as land-scarce Singapore does not have outlying areas to build them.

"These facilities are built also to serve the people in the community. So, it is important for us to site these facilities where our senior residents can age in place. We hope that Singaporeans would understand the need for us to do so and they would come forward and work with us to see how we can finetune designs, programmes or facilities," said Mr Gan.

"I am confident that if we continue to engage them, we would be able to win them over and support us," he added.

At a dialogue session with residents, Mr Gan also made clear that the U-Save rebate, given as part of this year's Budget package to offset the Goods and Services Tax, is for the whole household.

He said it's not based on the number of people living in the flat.

Residents of Bukit Timah also raised the problem of monkeys in their neighbourhood.

The monkeys have created a mess while trying to look for food in dustbins. They've also tried to attack residents.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Education and MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Sim Ann, said efforts have been made to tackle the problem, such as trying out the use of dustbins that are "monkey-proof".

"We will continue to work with the agencies because I am also concerned about resident safety. This is really the most important, while also respecting the fact that in an area that has got alot of nature, wildlife actually comes along with it," she said.

In September, the GRC will launch One Connect for private estate residents to better connect with government agencies on local maintenance issues.

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