Elderly get help within community

PHOTO: Elderly get help within community

Photo above: A volunteer watching as Madam Loke Swee Heong, 82, does a watercolour painting.

SINGAPORE - Her legs were swollen and painful, but Madam Loke Swee Heong continued to suffer alone.

For months, she put up with her condition in her two-room flat in Commonwealth, with no help or support.

That all changed, however, when the 82-year-old was selected to be a part of the Elder-centred Programme of Integrated Comprehensive Care (EPICC).

The latest programme by the Tsao Foundation's Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing, EPICC is an alternative option for senior citizens who may suffer from chronic medical conditions or are physically frail, but would rather live within the community than be admitted into a nursing home.

Participants attend a day club programme at the Hua Mei centre in Tiong Bahru at least once a week, from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Activities range from flower arrangement to pottery and music sessions.

The centre provides a door-to-door transport service, ferrying participants from their homes to the centre's premises.

Volunteer staff also visit their homes once or twice a week to assist with chores, such as doing the laundry and sweeping the floor.

Access to 24-hour medical care is also available, thanks to a team of doctors and nurses at Hua Mei Clinic next door. It provides regular health screenings and coordinates specialist appointments at outpatient clinics for its patients.

Fees for the programme are about $90 per day, or $1,700 per month, but subsidies are available based on the financial situation of participants.

"We want to take a look at what longevity can offer us," said the Tsao Foundation's president Mary Ann Tsao at EPICC's launch event yesterday morning. "We hope to be able to offer a place for service and shared learning."

Madam Loke, who has since received rehabilitation and physiotherapy at Hua Mei Clinic, is now living out her childhood dream of being a painter.

"I feel very happy when I come here," she said in Hokkien, beaming as her brushstrokes gave life to a bamboo forest. "It has given vitality to my life."

And for her volunteer assistant Zamima Jais, helping Madam Loke and others like her is its own reward. "When I see them smile from the bottom of their hearts, that is my happiness," said Ms Jais with a smile.

bryantc@sph.com.sg


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