Caption: Ms Jessie Teo connecting with her befriendee Mdm Ong virtually.
Cheng San-Seletar residents like 55-year-old Ms Jessie Teo have found different ways to support vulnerable and elderly neighbours during these challenging times. Having come to know these friends from activities at [email protected] 433, they rallied around one another and built on their friendships by helping one another.
"My heart goes out to my neighbours who are old and alone. Many are scared of the virus. Some of them also have dementia. They find it hard to remember so many things and worry a lot when they go out. I will always try to explain and remind them to wear their masks as they tend to forget," said Jessie.
Jessie keeps close tabs on her befriendeees who live in the vicinity - Mdm Ong LT, 73, and Mdm Mok SC, 69. Their close rapport comes from regular meetings at [email protected] 433 and Jessie also visits them at home regularly.
Mdm Ong lives alone and her weak joints causes pain and discomfort when she moves around. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, both of them attended the TOUCH Diabetes Peer Support group, where they learnt how to better manage their diabetic conditions. Recently, Mdm Ong was unwell and called her for help. Jessie contacted her son who then brought her to seek medical attention. Jessie enjoys sharing self-care tips with Mdm Ong and helps to get her meals when Mdm Ong finds difficulty leaving her apartment. Other neighbours have also stepped up to help Mdm Ong and one arranged to accompany Mdm Ong to the voting station, together with his mother.
After the circuit breaker, Jessie met up with Mdm Ong and helped set up the WhatsApp app so that they can video call each other. She also taught Mdm Ong how to use her handphone for video calls with family and friends. "Mdm Ong is keen to learn. She got so excited when she saw her grand children's faces on her phone! I also taught her how to scan a QR code. I feel happy to see her enjoying video calls with others through What'sApp," said Jessie.
Caption: Resident-turned-volunteer Ms Jessie Teo at [email protected] 433
Caption:Tapping on virtual platforms to connect with seniors.
Caption: Jessie (left) coaching Mdm Ong on some smart phone functions.
Mobilising the community
Caption: Resident volunteer Mr Steven Goh helping to accompany Mdm Ong to the Polling Station during the recent General Elections.
"I am like a 24-hour Grab service! Here in Ang Mo Kio, residents know one another well and they will help one another naturally. I could be running errands or helping to fix TV channels. We all do what we can. Next time, when I am not well, I will be grateful if someone can help me too," said Jessie with a smile.
Jessie assists other elderly residents too. Recently, one elderly resident was not feeling well so she checked-in on her by getting her meals, hang the food at the gate and taking peeks from the corridor window.
Friendly neighbours are also helping Mdm Chew SL, 74, who lives alone. Some ferry her to her medical appointments or to get her shopping done. They also helped to set up WhatsApp on her mobile phone. Residents also volunteered to change faulty light bulbs and do grocery runs.
"We are glad to see residents reaching out to one another and building their own network of support during the circuit breaker period. With our centres closed and staff telecommuting, it is so heartwarming to see residents taking the initiative to mobilise themselves and one another to render help to frailer neighbours. Some are also watching out for those with dementia who are still active in the neighbourhood This is an example of an enabled community," said Mr Kelvin Lee, Head, Community Enablement & Caregivers Support, TOUCH Community Services.