Due to complications arising from diabetes, Mdm Habibah Binte Hamdi had to amputate her leg a few years ago. Despite her physical condition, the 64-year-old attends to her daily chores independently. She enjoys interacting with the children from the kindergarten located on the ground floor of her HDB block, where she lives with her brother and his family.
She is committed to taking care of herself and living a full life, even if she requires help every now and then. “I try to be as independent as I can,” she quips.
Mdm Habibah was placed on public assistance after she was certified permanently unfit for work in 2015. She receives monthly cash assistance through the ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA) scheme. This helps with her daily living expenses, including food, rental, utilities, Service & Conservancy Charges, clothing, transport and communications.
To better support families and individuals in need like Mdm Habibah, MSF increased the cash assistance for ComCare LTA in July 2019. The increase means that one-person LTA households will receive $600 per month, up from $500 previously. For a household with two LTA beneficiaries, the rate will increase from $870 to $1,000. Larger household types will receive higher amounts.
Increasing the cash assistance rates is only a part of MSF’s efforts to provide more comprehensive, convenient, and coordinated support to low-income and vulnerable families.
MSF is also simplifying the financial assistance processes for clients so that they no longer have to be assessed separately for MediFund when they visit public health care institutions.
Whenever Mdm Habibah heads to Changi General Hospital for check-ups and medicine, she is relieved and thankful that she needs to only show her LTA card (also commonly known as the Public Assistance card) for free medical treatment.
This arrangement reduces the stress for individuals who may be faced with multiple needs. Samuel Chua, Mdm Habibah’s social assistance officer from Social Service Office @ Tampines, says this has positively impacted the lives of many ComCare clients. “They can focus on their health and well-being.”
Samuel says Mdm Habibah’s independent streak comes from being part of the Merdeka generation – those who grew up during the turbulent years from 1950 – 1959 and contributed to Singapore’s development.
In recognition of their efforts, the government announced the Merdeka Generation Package at the National Day Rally in 2018. Mdm Habibah will receive a $200 Medisave top-up every year, from 2019 to 2023, among other benefits of the package.
Besides helping with Mdm Habibah’s medical expenses and appointments, Samuel also works with community partners, such as mosques and the North East Community Development Council, to invite Hdm Habibah to their events to keep her active.
Since meeting Mdm Habibah two years ago, Samuel has bonded with her.
When asked what it was like working with Samuel, Mdm Habibah joked that he has become more handsome over time. She also shared that Samuel would arrange to meet her when she makes her way to SSO for review of her assistance at the drop off point and assist her after each meeting.
“That’s the kind of person he is, always ready to help.”