Seeing Mr Tay Mui Tong going about helping out at the AWWA Senior Activity Centre or waving to friends who pass by, it is hard to imagine him as someone who picks fights with those around him.
Mr Tay stays in a rental block served by an AWWA Senior Activity Centre implementing the Temasek Foundation Cares – Care Close to Home programme. A pilot programme that ran from 2014 to 2018, Care Close to Home was a partnership between the Agency for Integrated Care, AWWA Senior Activity Centre and Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizen Consultative Committee to support vulnerable seniors who live in four rental blocks in Ang Mo Kio and Kreta Ayer under a new care model. Over three years, the programme provided case management and personal care services to a total of 947 vulnerable seniors so that they can age well in their communities. Mr Tay is one of the direct beneficiaries of the care and support given by an AWWA care team.
Betsy Lim (below left) is the health care aide for Mr Tay. “At first, he didn’t want to listen to the advice of his doctors and the care team to stop drinking,” explained Betsy. “And when he drinks, it changes him as a person”.
Health Care Aide Betsy Lim, with Mr Tay Mui Tong
To help him manage his heart condition, the care team would remind Mr Tay to take his medication, and a medical escort would accompany him for his monthly medical appointments. With positive reinforcements and support, and the fear for his health condition, Mr Tay stopped his drinking habit for the last two years.
Nonetheless, when we met the feisty senior, he admitted that he relapsed a week ago. “I felt sick after drinking,” he said. He was visibly frustrated at himself.
But he managed a smile when AWWA Social Worker Norshaqilah caringly chimed in: “So Uncle, remember not to drink again, ok?”
Needs of seniors
Many seniors like Mr Tay have chronic medical conditions and are in need of health, social, emotional support, including daily personal care services as they age in their communities.
Under the Care Close to Home programme, a comprehensive array of support is available for seniors. A team of care professionals build rapport with each senior under their charge, understand their social and health conditions, and draw up individualised care plans for them. This includes the provision of basic nursing services like blood pressure, blood glucose and weight monitoring, medical escort, exercises and mind stimulation activities, and running simple errands such as buying groceries and delivering meals. For seniors who require more assistance in daily living, the care team could provide personal care services such as taking care of their personal hygiene, feeding, housekeeping or helping with their laundry.
From the pilot programme, the categories of personal care services required by most enrolled seniors were basic nursing, followed by simple errands.
Such care support is especially effective for seniors with mental health challenges; with constant reminders and engagement, including accompanying them for medical follow-ups, health care aides were able to help some seniors follow-up with their medications and check-ups. As a result, these seniors have fewer relapses.
Balm for the heart