They look after the elderly

They look after the elderly
READY TO HELP: Mr Tong and volunteers from SGH at his flat.

For 10 years, the multicoloured plastic reclining chair had stood in front of his bed in his one-room flat.

Despite having some dining chairs and a common stool , it is this particular chair that Mr Tong would spend most of his time on reading newspapers.

Then one day, the arm came off and Mr Tong Yew Mun, 75, did not have the money to replace it.

His only source of income is from his CPF, from which he gets a monthly payout of S$297.

So there it stood until "Project GroomOver" came along.

The project, involving volunteers from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), helps needy elderly residents in the Henderson and Bukit Merah areas.

When TNP visited Mr Tong at home on Saturday, volunteers were busy cleaning his flat.

One of the volunteers, Madam Salimah Ayoob, 51, Deputy Director of Nursing at SGH, said: "Mr Tong told us he had his chair for 10 years and one of the arms had come off.

He said he would love to have the same chair as he had been using the old one for 10 years.

"So we took a picture of it and went to look for the exact replacement."

The team took two days to track down the chair, eventually finding one in Choa Chu Kang.

"He was delighted we were able to bring him the same chair," she said.

Many others like Mr Tong have received items such as kettles and mattresses.

They are small gifts that the volunteers feel will make the lives of these elderly a better one.

"I'm very happy I got a new chair and the volunteers made my home very clean," Mr Tong said in Cantonese.

It took the nine volunteers about three hours to clean his flat.

Mr Tong, a bachelor, has been living alone in his one-room rented flat at Banda Street in the heart of Chinatown.

Like many elderly people, he suffers from various ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

He goes for his monthly check-ups at the Tzu Chi Free Clinic , which provides free transportation from his home.

However, some elderly like Mr Tong are often forgetful and illiterate, tending to either mix up their medications or take medicines that have long expired.

This is where Project GroomOver's pharmacists come in.

Madam Mumtaj Ibrahim, Community Relations Manager of SGH, said: " Our pharmacists are on hand to do a medicine reconciliation.

They will dispose of some medicines that are expired.

They will also advise these elderly residents on the proper medicines and dosage for their various medical conditions."

SingHealth Resident doctors will also conduct basic health screenings for the elderly residents.

"It's the Chinese New Year season so it'll be nice to usher in the new year together with these residents by helping them in whatever little way we can," Madam Mumtaj added.

When asked how he intended to spend Chinese New Year this year, Mr Tong jokingly said in Cantonese: "Go to the streets and have reunion dinner."

His wishes this new year? "All I wish for is good health and I will be very happy," he said.

andreas@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 11, 2015.
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