Helping seniors age well in community

Elderly Group

Helping seniors age well in community

Caption: Vivian believes in reabling her seniors and empowering them to do things for themselves – and not be completely reliant on others.

Some think she’s a masseur while others treat her like a fitness coach. In her past six years with TOUCH, 34-year-old Senior Physiotherapist Ms Vivian Lim has pursued her passion of serving seniors by helping them regain their mobility and challenging the fitter ones to improve their fitness level to prevent and reverse frailty.

Vivian’s interest for physiotherapy began during her school days when she took part in kayaking competitions and saw friends getting injured. Armed with a Degree in Applied Sciences in Physiotherapy from the University of Sydney, she worked in a hospital in Singapore for four years before deciding to join the community care sector to understand the challenges faced by her seniors to stay out of the hospital.

Respecting the wishes of seniors
As a physiotherapist, Vivian plays a critical role in rehabilitating elderly clients who suffer from functional decline due to illness. She also works with TOUCH’s team of occupational therapists to train and empower caregivers in their homes to help the elderly to maintain or regain their physical function.

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Caption: Helping seniors regain their mobility and independence.

“We need to always learn to communicate and listen to our seniors. We cannot sound like their boss where we dictate what they are supposed to do. Just like us, they have feelings and simple wishes in life. We have to find out what makes them tick and use it to motivate them in their recovery,” said Ms Vivian Lim.

Mobilising residents as community resources
Enabling seniors to integrate into the community Vivian also plays a pivotal role in spearheading the preventative and rehabilitation efforts of TOUCH’s Community Enablement Project or the CEP – at [email protected] 433 – going beyond home care services to mobilise residents as resources in the community to support ageing in place.

A key role includes helping to prevent or reverse frailty with the setting up and running of Lien Foundation’s Gym Tonic, a customised strength training programme for seniors. Vivian is also involved in the newly opened Day Rehabilitation Centre at [email protected] 433, customising specialty classes for residents to further optimise their fitness potential.

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Caption: Vivian conducting a therapy class at [email protected] 433.

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Caption: Supporting residents at the newly opened Day Rehabilitation Centre at [email protected] 433

Seeing the world from a different "lens"
Vivian always reminds her seniors that the type of “lens” they choose to wear will determine how they view life. She believes in having an open mind and not stereotyping her clients. From her experience, some of her most cheerful elderly could be the loneliest ones around.

Being a physiotherapist in the community, Vivian has grown to be observant and resourceful. "From looking at the soles of their footwear to making a habit to check fridges of my clients, these minute details of their life can help me understand, and hopefully, highlight the potential barriers to their recovery," added Ms Lim.

Serving individuals from 41 to 104 years old, Vivian now spends most of her time reaching out to both well and frail residents in Ang Mo Kio. With the newly opened [email protected] 433, Vivian finds her work more meaningful as she connects residents with one another, keeps them fit and healthy so they can support the needs of other vulnerable seniors in their neighbourhood.

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Caption: Connecting seniors and  helping them integrate in the community

Vivian is also a strong advocate of reablement, where she believes that seniors can only experience the benefits of exercise in achieving greater independence and quality of life when healthcare staff - do with - and not for their clients.

In recognition of her excellent service, Vivian received the Healthcare Humanity Awards 2019, a national award to recognise the outstanding contributions of healthcare workers.