Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development how many seniors have been placed under Adult Protective Services since the scheme began and what efforts are made to work with the families of such seniors to make them more care-ready.
As our population ages, some individuals may suffer physical or mental infirmities or disabilities, and may not be able to care for themselves. MSF’s Adult Protective Service (APS) was established in May 2015 to protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect or self-neglect, such as when their families are unable to provide for their safety and well-being.
2 APS partners social service agencies (SSAs) such as Family Violence Specialist Centres and Family Service Centres, as well as hospitals, the Police and the Courts to protect vulnerable adults. The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) came into effect in December 2018, and provides powers for APS to intervene when a vulnerable adult is assessed to face high safety risk. For example, the VAA allows APS to apply to the Court to place the vulnerable adult in the care of a relative or a suitable fit person, or in a Place of Safety that is operated by an SSA.
3 Since its establishment until September 2020, APS has investigated 484 cases involving seniors aged 65 and above. About 98% of the cases were resolved with support from the seniors’ families and SSAs. The remaining seniors were assisted through Court orders, such as being cared for in a Place of Safety.
4 MSF believes that whenever circumstances permit, it is more beneficial for our seniors to be cared for by family members. At the same time, MSF recognises that caregivers may be under stress and encourages them to seek help early. The Government has various financial schemes, such as the Home Caregiving Grant to defray the cost of engaging community caregiving services, and the Caregiver Training Grant for caregivers to learn to better care for their loved ones. SSAs also provide a suite of services ranging from counselling to caregiver training to respite services for caregivers. The aim is to stabilise the family environment and restore the relationships between the seniors and their families and caregivers.
5 In addition, MSF encourages Singaporeans, including seniors, to identify their donees early through a Lasting Power of Attorney. In the event of a loss of mental capacity, donees will be able to help the seniors make decisions about their future care arrangements.
6 Caregivers, seniors, and persons in need of someone to talk to about the issues that weigh them down can call the National CARE hotline to receive mental health first aid and the appropriate referrals to social service agencies and public health institutions.