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Project Helping Hands to help the elderly live their golden years with dignity

SINGAPORE, 18 October 2010 --- The New Paper, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Lions Befrienders have come together to help our senior citizens live their golden years safely and with dignity. The move comes at a time when the number of elderly aged above 60 and living on their own is projected to rise from 35,000 last year to 83,000 by 2030.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic has devised the hardware for this project - a wireless sensor alert system that can be installed in an apartment. It tracks the resident’s movements and sends an SMS to a caregiver or volunteer if no motion is detected after a pre-set time - for example, if the resident remains motionless due to an injury or illness.

The system, which was developed, installed and maintained by the staff and students of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, has been tried and tested successfully in two one-room flats in Queenstown and Bukit Merah since December last year.

Lions Befrienders has identified 1,000 needy elderly Singaporeans, living in one-room flats as potential beneficiaries.

To get the hardware portion of the project up and running, Project Helping Hands aims to raise at least $1 million by the end of the year.

A pledge of $1,000 will pay for the installation of the system in one flat.

Mr Foo See Meng, the Deputy Principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "Ngee Ann is extremely proud to partner The New Paper and Lions Befrienders for the joint initiative. As part of their learning experience in Ngee Ann, our students have come up with many innovative projects which benefit the community or industry. It is therefore most heartening to see Ngee Ann's Elderly Monitoring System gaining recognition and inspiring a worthy effort to tackle a community problem."

Ngee Ann Poly's Elderly Monitoring System started as a student project under the guidance of their lecturer, Mrs Lek-Lim Geok Choo. The team from the polytechnic's Electrical Engineering Division was moved by media reports of elderly people who died alone - unknown to even their immediate neighbours until their bodies decomposed and emitted a stench.

The motion sensors are mounted at different parts of the home such as the bedroom, kitchen, living room and toilet. Another sensor is fixed on the door to indicate whether the senior citizen has left or returned to the flat. The system therefore provides an extra pair of "eyes" as it is not possible for the caregivers to be with the senior citizens all the time.

Mr Goh Boon Han, executive director of the Lions Befrienders, said: "Installing such a device in the homes of the seniors under the care of Lions Befrienders would be useful to those living alone and more so if they are frail. It also serves to complement the good work carried out by our Befrienders (volunteers) who visit them weekly."

Apart from raising money, Project Helping Hands also hopes to get families, neighbourhoods, community groups, schools and businesses to volunteer to adopt a senior citizen living on their own. As volunteers, their main responsibility will be to agree to receive and act on the SMS alert that will be automatically sent out by the sensor if it detects any change in the senior citizen's movements, and also to drop in on them weekly to see how they are doing.

Editor of The New Paper, Dominic Nathan, said Project Helping Hands is a way of trying to meet the needs of a generation that helped build modern Singapore.

Mr Nathan said: "The golden years of these senior citizens should not be spent waiting for a lonely and sometimes premature death. The technology developed by Ngee Ann Polytechnic is key to raising the alarm in an emergency. And if we can help Lions Befrienders build up the network of volunteers, then this could be the perfect marriage of technology and volunteerism."

All funds raised will be handled and disbursed by the Lions Befrienders. They now have more than 1,000 volunteers, making weekly visits to more than 2,000 elderly islandwide.

How to make a donation:

Cheques made payable to "Lions Befrienders" can be mailed to:

Lions Befrienders Service Association (Singapore)

Blk 130, Bukit Merah View, #01-358, Singapore 150130

Donations can also be made in cash at the Lions Befrienders' office during office hours (9am-6pm) on weekdays.

Individual donors should indicate on the overleaf side of the cheque his/her (i) full name (as indicated on the NRIC), (ii) NRIC number, (iii) address, (iv) contact number (v) project name: Project Helping Hands

Corporate donors should indicate on the overleaf side of the cheque their (i) corporation’s name (as registered with ACRA), (ii) business registration No. (iii) address, (iv) contact number (v) project name: Project Helping Hands

All donations are tax-exempt.

To sign up as a volunteer, please call 1800-375-8600 or go to http://www.lionsbefrienders.org.sg

For information and updates on the project, please go to http://tnp.sg/helpinghands

Please see attached fact sheet on The New Paper, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Lions Befrienders.

(See attached file: factsheet.rtf)

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Limited
Co. Regn. No: 198402868E


For further enquiries, contact:

Ms Sadiah Ahmad
Manager, Media Relations
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Tel: 6460 6232
Mobile: 8367 0286
Email: sadia@np.edu.sg

Alwyn Chia
Manager, Communications and Partnerships
Lions Befrienders Service Association (Singapore)
DID: 6375 8609
Mobile: 9727 5665
Email: alwyn@lionsbefrienders.org.sg

Genevieve Jiang
The New Paper
Copyeditor
DID: 6319-5710
HP: 9624-5941
Email: geneviev@sph.com.sg

Francis Mah
Manager
Corporate Communications
Singapore Press Holdings
Tel: 6319 1028
Email: mahys@sph.com.sg


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