Bandar Kuching MP Moots ‘Wellness Kampung’ For Sarawak’s Elderly

The idea is to move aged care out of the hospital into the community.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has proposed community-centric wellness programmes for elderly Sarawakians, like in Singapore, to move care outside hospitals as Malaysia becomes an ageing society.

Singapore’s “wellness kampung” comprises three wellness and care centres that create a support network for residents in HDB flats with activities like cooking, physical exercise like tai chi and yoga, urban farming, recreational activities, health screenings, and care services like day care and rehabilitation within the community.

Dr Yii, who visited the Chong Pang “wellness kampung” in Singapore last month, said the centres were stationed in different zones, with one hospital, to a certain extent, being responsible for their own zone.

The hospitals send their officers and doctors out to the communities to do follow-up visits and to track, through the wellness community, people who miss appointments. Data is also kept on people with chronic diseases like diabetes in the community to ensure proper monitoring and targeted assistance.

All activities in the “wellness” kampung are free and run by volunteers in the community and the hospital, with the condition that people share whatever they do with each other, like produce from their community farm and cooking for everyone.

“So basically, the philosophy of the whole initiative is to build a community that takes care of one another, encourage one another and look out for one another, especially among the older generation,” Dr Yii told CodeBlue.

“This actually has a very positive psycho-somatic effect as we have seen how generally many of these elderly, they get more active and their general health improves by being part of this continuous and active community.”

A community farm in the Chong Pang wellness kampung in Singapore. Residents have very little space, so they plant in between each HDB flat. Only rule is, they must share. Picture by Dr Kelvin Yii.

The three “wellness kampung” in Singapore, he said, are funded indirectly by the government through the hospitals that also collaborate with private companies.

“So I do think this is a good concept and I fully support the idea of bringing health care outside the four walls of the hospital and into the community,” said Dr Yii.

“It is not about getting the sick to the hospital, but bringing health care to the people.”

The Bandar Kuching MP said he was considering adopting the “wellness kampung” philosophy in his constituency and Sarawak.

“This of course will require buy-in from the hospital in the area, although I believe the direction of the MoH (Ministry of Health) to promote primary care/ family medicine and family community clinics is a step in a good direction.

“Next will be to expand it beyond the four walls and to promote health care as a community lifestyle,” Dr Yii said.

According to the Statistics Department, the number of senior citizens in Malaysia aged 65 and above increased by 100,000 people to 2.19 million in the second quarter this year from the same period last year.

The elderly aged 65 and above are expected to form 6.7 per cent of the total population in Malaysia this year. According to the Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysia will reach ageing nation status in 2030, where 15 per cent of the population is aged 60 and above.

Aged Care Group CEO Dr Carol Yip told CodeBlue recently that long-term non-medical care for the aged is often ignored, as she called for allocations in this area in the upcoming Budget 2020.

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