Singapore is an aging population but there is a lack of proper awareness for choices and facilites of the elderly which is why I was really excited to know more about what NTUC Eldercare had to offer when I was invited down to their Fengshan branch for a visit and a tour of their facilities.
Heading down to the center in the morning meant I could catch the elderly doing their routine morning exercise which I participated together with them.
I did a quick survey among family and friends about how much they knew about the availability of day care centers for the elderly and most of them didn’t know much about it at all. My grandparents and parents are appalled that I even what to find out more as they are afraid that I’ll want to throw them in some elderly home and not care for them anymore. I think there lies the big misconception that most people have about services for the elderly. I’m sure there are full time boarding homes for the elderly but that’s not the only option.
NTUC Eldercare Co-operative Limited was set up in 1997 to provide quality and affordable eldercare services for our seniors in the community. One of their largest services is Elderly Day Care. NTUC Eldercare provides day care services under their Silver Circle brand to engage seniors mentally, physically, and socially. Elders are encouraged with interactive activities, such as regular exercises, interesting games and festive celebrations, while their family members are at work during the day. If we can put young children in daycare, why is there such a stigma with putting elders in day care as well?
After viewing the facilities and the programmes, I got to say it really feels like it compares well to sending a kid to school. The activities are mainly community-based with lots of interaction and fun. In one of the sessions I attended, they were playing games with the elders and “pinning” faces on the boards. The most Piccasso looking one on the board actually had the most votes! Guess these elderly folks are into modern art!
In addition to these community- based activities, the centres also provide value-added healthcare services such as clinical care, physiotherapy assessment and treatment, counseling, basic health checks & referrals.
For those who need to go to work and cannot leave their elderly parents or grandparents alone at home in case they fall down, hurt themselves or get lonely, this is a wonderful solution. It may take some time before the asian cultural background in most Singaporeans get used to sending the elders in their family to day care but I’m glad that there is such a service available. The center is only open 5 days a week as it wants weekends to be a time for family bonding for their individual elderly. You don’t even need to send your elders all 5 days. You could choose to just send them once or twice a week like a recreational club where they can meet their friends!
The best part about it is that NTUC Eldercare is all about quality and affordability. Subsidies are available for lower income families and NTUC Eldercare is completely not-for-profit!
Even if the generations before me can’t accept going to day care as they are afraid of abandonment, my generation and the generations after me are now a lot more educated and well-informed. We should remove the stigma of going to day care when we are old. It does not mean that your family doesn’t love you. It just means that they care for your well-being and want you to lead meaning lives that is fun and activity filled. It’ll also give the peace of mind to your family member that you are safe and well taken care of when they are at work.
They even have festive celebrations and organise outings and sightseeing trips for their elderly folks! Which I’m sure is a lot more fun than just staying at home everyday and facing the four walls while waiting for your family members to find time off their busy schedules to take leave and bring you out! The elderly don’t go to day care on weekends so they still get to go out with their family. It’s not a family substitute programme, it’s an enhancement of lifestyle programme.
Other interesting services I noticed that the center provides are nursing care, physiotherapy, meals, transport to & fro their homes and a dementia care programme. Dementia is an extremely challenging issue and I was pleasantly surprised that they had a programe for that. At the center I visited, they even had a corner with lots of traditional items to try and jolt the memory and encourage interaction with those who had dementia.
Everything was just really well thought out and a medical doctor visits the center regularly. The aging population in Singapore is an issue that shouldn’t be ignored and taken for granted. I’m really glad NTUC is so pro-active in this aspect.