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Elderly patients get a hand from neighbours

AUDREY TAN on 24 Jan 2014

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd


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VISITING the elderly man in the block next to hers has become a daily routine for Madam Sariffah Zaharah, 56, for the past five months.

During her visits, the part-time administrative clerk cleans Mr Tan Tock Hwee’s two-room rental flat in Bedok, where he lives alone. She also ensures that the 66-year-old retired photographer, who has end-stage appendix cancer, takes his medication.

She is one of about 50 residents in Bedok, Siglap and Marine Parade who lend a hand to those at risk of hospital re-admission under a programme called Neighbours for Active Living.

The volunteers visit the patients – usually elderly people who have multiple conditions and lack social support – and ensure they go for regular check-ups, among other things.

Since the programme was started last July, activity centres for the elderly, other community organisations and residents have referred more than 200 such patients to it.

The programme is jointly developed by the South East Community Development Council (CDC) and regional health system Eastern Health Alliance (EH Alliance), which owns Changi General Hospital.

Over the next two years, EH Alliance will work with South East CDC and North East CDC to roll out the programme in other areas in the east, such as Tampines.

“The programme provides that crucial combination of medical, social and practical support,” said Ms Zahara Mahmood, manager of the community care team of EH Alliance which trains the volunteers recruited by South East CDC.

It may also ease the bed crunch faced by hospitals, said the group chief executive of EH Alliance, Mr T.K. Udairam. Patients, especially those who live alone, may be able to avoid repeat hospitalisation if they receive proper care at home, he said.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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