Vulnerable Adults Bill to be laid out for approval during the first half of 2018

The Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF), headed by Mr. Desmond Lee, will push for the passing of the Vulnerable Adults Bill within the first half of the year, as announced by the Minister himself in an interview last Jan. 2.

The bill, which had been publicly reviewed in 2016, will give authorities the power to intervene where necessary, so as to ensure safety and protection of adults who are considered to be in the at-risk group.

A Bill that will Address the Needs of Singapore’s Ageing Population will be Introduced in the First Half of the Year

The relevance of the proposed bill stems from the projection that by 2030, some 900,000 residents will have been at the age of 65 and above, with a fair number of whom would either be single or without children to take care of them. The problem is only magnified when illnesses associated to old age such as dementia begin to set in, according to the MSF.

The MSF shared that the number of people living alone is projected to increase from 35,000 in 2012 to 83,000 by 2030. Moreover, people with disabilities are living longer, and more of them are outliving their parents. The elderly and the ageing people with disabilities belong to the group of people who are considered at risk for neglect, various forms of abuse and self-care deficits.

Mr Lee shared that while there are already intervention opportunities such as child protection and the youth justice system for the youth sector, the adults do not have the same environment as of yet.

The passing of the Vulnerable Adults Bill will strengthen the government’s existing legislations and will provide the people in authority the power to intervene where it is necessary, Mr Lee added.

Furthermore, the bill does not only recognize the rights of the vulnerable adults, but it also aims to provide support to the families and caregivers who directly work with this group.

One way to offer support to caregivers dealing with vulnerable adults is by simplifying the process for them to become appointed deputies through the Assisted Deputyship Application Programme (ADAP). The programme has proven to work well in special education schools where it was first implemented.

Mr Lee is hoping to expand the programme and provide opportunities for its graduates who are already designated in day activity centres, to help their parents apply in a simple and quick manner for them to become their appointed deputies.

In an increasingly ageing nation such as Singapore, Mr. Lee envisions to bring together the consolidated resources of the national government, ground agencies, social service organizations (otherwise known as voluntary welfare organizations or VWOs) as well as the grassroots and volunteer workers to offer help and support to senior citizens in every possible way. This can be done by means of bringing them in to clinics or hospitals where they can be monitored and be given care and companionship.

While there has been informal support from VWOs to the ageing community, there is still a gap in the support for seniors with deteriorating mental capacity, especially those facing dementia, in terms of financing. The bill will allocate resources for this group to help them apply for home care and nursing services as well as to buy things, Mr Lee explained.