Resident volunteers raise health awareness in neighbourhood

Elderly Group

Resident volunteers raise health awareness in neighbourhood
Caption: TOUCH Caregivers Support’s exercise participants-turned-volunteers at the health screening session at Chong Boon Market and Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio

Just six months ago, Mdm Sarasvathy, 69, could not move her shoulders. They felt tight and painful each time she raised her arms to hang her laundry. Now, she can move her shoulders freely - without any pain. Thanks to the functional strength training sessions organised by TOUCH Caregivers Support (TCG) at the void deck for residents as part of its Community Enablement Project in the Cheng San-Seletar precinct. So when Mdm Sarasvathy heard about TCG’s plans to organise a health screening exercise for residents in her neighbourhood, she was delighted. 

Caption: Resident volunteer Mdm Saravathy helping with blood pressure checks

TCG has, for the first time, partnered with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the National Healthcare Group to expand health screening services in the Central region of Singapore. More than 500 residents from age 40 and above took part in the health screening from 31 July to 6 August 2017 at the Chong Boon Market and Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio.

“We are happy to organise this health screening exercise to benefit Ang Mo Kio residents. This is in line with TOUCH’s vision to be a community enabler – to tap on community resources and help our seniors to age well in place. This health screening is one of our platforms to encourage residents to take charge of their health and well-being, and to further support the needs of other older residents,” said Mr Kavin Seow, Senior Director, Elderly Group, TOUCH Community Services.

“We are also encouraged to see our Community Enablement Project in the Cheng San-Seletar precinct gaining traction.  Many of the residents whom we have reached out to through our regular health talks and functional strength training sessions were excited when they heard about our plans to organise a health screening exercise.  Having reaped the benefits of strength training, they now want to be a part of our efforts by helping out as a volunteer,” added Mr Seow.

“The accessibility of health screenings in familiar spaces encourages active participation. By lengthening the duration, we ease naturally into daily routines and will reach out to even more residents, especially first timers. Chronic disease is easiest to manage when detected early, and there are long-term gains from good control and intervention in the early stages. We hope to work together and empower residents to take charge of their own health – ultimately achieving a healthier Singapore,” said Dr Wong Sweet Fun, Chief Transformation Officer, Alexandra Health System, Deputy Chairman, Medical Board, Yishun Community Hospital and Senior Consultant (Geriatric Medicine), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. 

Mr Hui
Resident volunteer Mr Hui hard at work at Chong Boon Market.

Exercise enthusiast Mr Hui Kew Yeng, 81, who came with his wife, Mdm Ang Hiok Hoon, 75, helped to distribute flyers, and actively encouraged residents at the market to go for health screening.

“My neighbours were surprised to see me helping out. I took the opportunity to invite them to get their health checked. I was so glad when they agreed,” said Mr Hui smiling. 

Senior and sis

Caption: Mdm Lam (middle) having her health checked, accompanied by her sister (right)

For elderly residents like Mdm Lam Ngook Yue, 82, having the health screening at her neighbourhood market is a practical idea. “I cannot walk long distances and it is not convenient for me to go elsewhere. Having it here is so much easier as I need not worry about transport issues, said Mdm Lam.

From helping to take blood pressure, to ushering the crowd to manning the health stations together with various healthcare partners, the 20 resident volunteers have found a meaningful way to give back to the community.

“As a volunteer, I am glad I am learning something new, as well as helping residents to take care of their health,” said Mdm Sarasvathy.