The People’s Action Party’s Women’s Wing is calling for change in four policy areas to better support seniors and their caregivers.
Its proposals include a housing subsidy for singles who care for aged parents, mandatory eldercare leave and a respite care scheme so caregivers can have breaks.
These were set out in its position paper released yesterday, which proposed changes to policies in housing, health care, employment and
Ageing issues are particularly important to the Women’s Wing as women are expected to form the majority of Singapore’s elderly, said Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef at its annual conference, where she presented the paper along with fellow Women’s Wing member and Member of Parliament Ellen Lee.
At the conference, Women’s Wing chairman and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu noted that women here have made great strides in health, education and employment.
But they continue to face challenges in trying to balance work and care-giving duties, she said. She highlighted the importance of keeping women in the workforce for as long as possible, especially in a rapidly ageing society where there will be fewer young folk to support the old.
Hence the need to push for measures to make workplaces more family-friendly through flexible hours, build better childcare and eldercare
facilities, put in place an effective Fair Employment Practices Framework to reduce discrimination and adjust leave and benefits schemes
so men and women can take on more equal roles at home.
She also highlighted a need to pay attention to low-wage households headed by women who are widowed or divorced. Other measures to address the challenges of an ageing population were also explored in the position paper.
In housing, the Women’s Wing also wants elderly-friendly fixtures to be made available to more by lowering the minimum age for the Housing Board’s Enhancement for Active Seniors scheme and doing away with the requirement of needing assistance.
Dr Fatimah also spoke of helping elderly home owners to monetise their property by extending the Lease Buyback Scheme to larger HDB flats. The scheme lets home owners sell part of their lease back to the Government, but only for three-room and smaller flats currently.
In health care, the Women’s Wing wants more subsidised health screenings and free assistive equipment such as wheelchairs for the needy elderly.
On eldercare leave, Dr Fatimah told reporters that a week’s leave might be an appropriate amount. She hopes that this and other proposals
can be put in place in the next two years.
On the employment front, ideas included an “elderpreneurship” centre with loans and training for older entrepreneurs, and more incentives
to hire older workers.
Finally, in the area of social support, the Women’s Wing hopes able-bodied elderly will be encouraged to help less able-bodied seniors.
The position paper has been prese nted to the PAP Seniors Group (PAP.SG), set up late last year to address elderly issues.
Last Thursday, PAP.SG released a paper on health care in which it called for more public spending in six areas to ensure health care remains affordable to older Singaporeans, especially members of the pioneer generation.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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