IAS to launch tracking app for elderly living alone in Q4

2024-03-28 03:19     BY Yuki Lei    Comment:2

The Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) will launch a mobile app to track the activities of senior citizens living alone in the fourth quarter of this year, IAS Social Solidarity Department Chief Choi Sio Un said yesterday.

Addressing a current affairs phone-in programme, Ou Mun Gwong Cheuhng, hosted by Ou Mun Tin Toi – the Chinese-language radio channel of public broadcaster TDM, Choi encouraged members of the public to take care of seniors living alone.

The bureau will take all necessary steps to identify and determine the safety of senior citizens, in compliance with the respective laws and regulations as well as the elderly person’s prior authorisation, Choi said, adding that once it is found that the app user has not shown any sign of activity for a whole day or a certain period of time, the bureau and other authorised government entities will be informed of the situation.

“At the beginning of the app launch in the fourth quarter of this year, there may be a pilot period, for example, it will be implemented in rental flats for seniors or to those who have already joined its service scheme for the elderly living alone, and then we can promote it to all the old people in Macau, who can join the scheme as long as they are willing to do so,” said Choi.

Choi pointed out that the bureau took the initiative years ago to identify and reach out to senior citizens living alone by subsidising and supporting various types of social welfare service entities, including elderly activity centres, as well as residential homes and daycare centres for senior citizens, to distribute leaflets, set up awareness-raising street booths and organising visits to the homes of seniors living alone so as to support the elderly living alone in terms of social networks, daily care and crisis intervention.

Choi also said that while protecting personal data and privacy, the Social Welfare Bureau is planning, in conjunction with the Health Bureau (SSM), to identify living-alone seniors in need, hidden elderly in particular, through the Health Bureau and then refer the cases to his bureau, adding: “When they [seniors living alone] are admitted to hospital, let the Health Bureau, based on their consent, refer the relevant cases to the Social Welfare Bureau for follow-up social support after they are discharged from hospital.”

According to the bureau’s “Database of Users of Services for Seniors Living Alone and Families Consisting of Two Elderly”, Choi noted, more than 7,000 people in Macau are registered as living-alone elderly, among whom 80 percent have off-spring, with 70 percent living in residential buildings with elevators.

He underlined: “Seniors living alone are not exactly the same as hidden [hard-to-reach] elderly.”

Choi said that his bureau has also strengthened its collaboration with different government entities, non-government institutions and civic associations, adding that the bureau has proactively reached out to high-risk cases, such as those who failed to apply for their proof-of-life certificates as expected, or those welfare allowance beneficiaries who did not update their phase-in applications, while, at the same time, exploring appropriate ways to collect data from the elderly during their documentary application process so as to provide them with the support they need in the future.

According to the phone-in programme, the main reasons for the elderly to stay “hidden” are that they lack social contacts, have less contact with community services and participate less in community activities, with some of the issues linked to living in walk-ups, which makes it physically difficult for them to go out, or spend less money outside their homes due to financial constraints. 

Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) Social Solidarity Department Chief Choi Sio Un (centre), flanked by two social workers, attends a current affairs phone-in programme, Ou Mun Gwong Cheuhng, hosted by Ou Mun Tin Toi – the Chinese-language radio channel of public broadcaster TDM, yesterday. – Photo courtesy of TDM

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