NOTICE PAPER NO. 1449
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 20 OCTOBER 2022
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Shahira Abdullah
Nominated Member of Parliament
Question No. 3602
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the prevalence of cases of elderly self-harm in Singapore; (b) whether there has been an increase in such cases over the years; and (c) what are the current efforts to ensure that the elderly is able to access help as more resources are moved online.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) does not keep track of the overall prevalence of elderly self-harm cases in Singapore, but the number of elderly self-harm cases seen at our public acute hospitals was stable for the last 5 years at around 10 annually.
The circumstances of elderly self-harm cases can be complex and multi-faceted. MOH, together with other ministries, adopts a multi-pronged approach to provide support for elderly at risk of self-harm: upstream prevention, proactive outreach, and professional support and crisis interventions.
In upstream prevention, MOH builds public awareness among seniors on the importance of mental well-being. For example, under the “Live Well, Age Well” (LWAW) programme, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) conducts healthy ageing workshops. These workshops include psycho-social modules that equip seniors with knowledge and skills to maintain their mental well-being and provide information on where to seek help if needed. These programmes are rolled out within the community, such as in Community Clubs, and can also be accessed virtually.
To support vulnerable and socially isolated seniors, befrienders from the Active Ageing Centres (AACs) proactively outreach to these seniors through regular home visits and check-in calls. The Silver Generation Office (SGO) complements the AACs by conducting targeted outreach to seniors who are living alone or are frail. Together with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), MOH has also set up Community Outreach Teams (CREST) to reach out to seniors with or who may be at risk of depression or dementia, to provide mental health information and education, and basic emotional support.
Seniors who require care and support are referred to the appropriate services. For example, the Community Intervention Teams (COMIT) provide assessment and psycho-social therapeutic interventions to individuals, including seniors, with mental health and dementia needs. Family Service Centres (FSCs) also provide case management and counselling support to low-income and vulnerable seniors, to help them with issues such as family, financial, and emotional difficulties.
There are services to support crisis intervention. For instance, hotlines such as the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) Hotline, and the Institute of Mental Health’s (IMH) Mental Health Helpline provide counselling and self-harm prevention resources, as well as crisis support.
MOH will continue to work closely with our partners to develop community resources and build capabilities to better support at-risk seniors.