Mr Pritam Singh: In 2016, MOH rolled out the senior support call centre service, Careline. It was targeted at seniors living alone who could enrol in the service and receive support, medication reminders and tele-befriending, if needed.
The Minister for Health last year noted that Careline has supported around 10,000 seniors. I would like to ask how many Singaporeans have signed up and of which, what has been the proportion of seniors who have had their needs met through Careline. Has the number of sign-ups remained promising after four years?
We also know that language barriers tend to be a challenge in bringing care to our seniors. Has there been feedback on whether this was also an obstacle in Careline and what steps have been taken to bridge that?
I gather that how Careline works is not necessarily by sending someone down to the senior who calls but also by linking them up with relevant agencies and community partners to provide more well-rounded support.
It is hard to quantify the success of holistic support though. Perhaps, one way to measure efficacy would be to think of how Careline has helped expedite seniors’ access to emergency responses. How many Careline calls in 2019, 2020 and 2021 have been referred to emergency services?
Which brings me to Careline’s specific role. It is but one among a buffet of tele-medical services that seniors and other vulnerable citizens can choose from when they are in distress. Other 24-hour hotlines like the IMH’s Mental Health Helpline. Eldercare centres also conduct check-in calls to seniors in need of support, as does the Silver Generation Office, albeit with a more targeted approach. There are also support hotlines operated by independent counselling centres and the National Care Hotline offering pandemic-related psychological support.
With so many different options, are seniors made sufficiently aware of the range of support that they can access, or is there some scope for a rationalisation exercise without drop in the quality of care? Does the Government envisage expanding Careline and rolling it out to more seniors?
Ministry of Health
9 March 2022