An action plan for “successful ageing”
A call to build “a nation for all ages”, shared a speech by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, and to open the conversation on ageing.
The Government has plans to put together a national effort to prepare Singaporeans for “successful ageing”, according to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong’s speech in Parliament during the second day of the debate on the President’s Address, where he also spoke about MediShield Life.
Here are excerpts of his speech:
“… While we speak of the challenges of an ageing population, we should not forget that ageing and longevity is a blessing after all. We are all living longer and that is a good thing. But we must plan ahead to help Singaporeans age successfully and meaningfully.
The Ministerial Committee on Ageing (MCA) has spent the last few years building up aged-care services to support an ageing population. By 2020, we will add about 5,000 nursing home beds as well as expand the capacity of our centre-based services. We will also give home care a big push to support seniors to age-in-place. We have rolled out a set of quality standards for nursing homes and we are in the midst of developing guidelines for home care. Aged-care services are made more affordable with higher and more targeted Government subsidies for the middle- and lower-income families.
Moving beyond developing aged-care services, the Committee will coordinate a whole-of-nation effort to put together a coherent national agenda to prepare our population for successful ageing. This is an action plan that will holistically chart strategies and initiatives to support and enable Singaporeans to achieve meaningful and successful ageing. It will cover seven diverse areas – lifelong learning for seniors, employment, volunteerism, urban infrastructure, healthcare, retirement adequacy and research into ageing.
Ageing is a conversation that involves all of us – our aspirations for our silver years, how we hope to live our lives to the fullest, how we wish to relate to peers and younger persons, and the kind of society we wish to live in when we grow old. It is a conversation not just among the old, but also with the young.
From the middle of this year, the MCA will hold a series of public consultations to hear the aspirations and suggestions from Singaporeans on what we should do to collectively plan for successful ageing for our seniors and for ourselves in time to come. We will also engage voluntary welfare groups, businesses, unions and academia in this whole-of-nation conversation on ageing.
Let us now change the conversation about ageing – from worrying about the challenges that come from ageing to celebrating longevity.
We want to hear ideas from educational institutions, VWOs and senior learners themselves, on what can be done to help seniors continue to learn new things so that they can remain active, and their days filled with excitement. For example, the Council for Third Age (C3A) has initiated Kopi & Toast, where active seniors mentor and encourage less active seniors to adopt an active lifestyle. Through this programme, the more reserved seniors have become more active and participated in activities which they had not done previously, such as ukulele classes and even signing up as a volunteer for the 2015 SEA Games. The pilot run, which was conducted in 2013 with 68 seniors, received very good feedback through various success stories shared by participants.
We also want to hear suggestions from unions, employers and HR practitioners on how we can tap the talents and growth opportunities from a workforce that will enjoy longer years of productive lives and how the workplace can be made more welcoming and empowering for our seniors to put their experience and talents to good use.
St Luke’s ElderCare is a good example. Its comprehensive age-friendly HR strategy has empowered seniors and developed a culture of lifelong learning and this allows seniors to be more competent, confident and appreciative of their work while at the same time keeping them engaged. St Luke’s has shown that given opportunities, seniors can continue to contribute meaningfully.
We also welcome ideas from community leaders, healthcare professionals and active agers, on what we can do collectively to encourage and support our seniors to age actively and preserve good health for as long as possible. It is also important to explore how we can encourage and provide better support for multi-generation families, in terms of housing and amenities in the heartlands, how we can support them in strengthening family values, and intergenerational bonding. For example, we are rolling out larger 3Gen flats for multigenerational families to stay together and injecting aged-care services in our estates so that seniors can age at home close to their loved ones.
Professionals like architects, IT experts and urban and transport planners can also share their ideas on how we can build an intelligent city for all ages, leveraging on technology to make living easier for seniors and allowing them to participate as an active member of our society.
The formulation of the action plan will involve various Government ministries and agencies, private and people sectors. We will consult widely and we hope the plan will be ready by next year. The ideas and suggestions we gather will then be incorporated in our national action plan for successful ageing. We hope that, through the collective efforts of Singaporeans – of all ages and from all walks of life – we can build a nation for all ages.
… We will turn longevity into our advantage. We will work together to forge an action plan to make Singapore a nation for all ages. This will be the best tribute to our pioneers and the best gift to the next generation of Singaporeans.”
(** PHOTO CREDIT: Firefly Photography for educating and non-profit purposes only)