Empowering Elders with Friendship and Security

Eighty-year-old Mr Ng Keng Fun resides alone in Singapore while his wife lives in Indonesia. He grapples with chronic issues such as hypertension and heart problems. His frail legs pose not only mobility issues but also heightened fall risk. Since the Agency for Integrated Care referred Mr Ng to the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) ElderAid service, Mr Ng has benefitted from the regular visits from the Community Befrienders. He appreciates the listening ear and the friendship which help him to combat social isolation while improving his emotional well-being. Cognisant of his health issues, the Community Befrienders directed him to SRC's Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) system. With the HoME+ System installed in his home, Mr Ng is assured that Community Responders will come to his aid in the event of an emergency.

Eighty-year-old Mr Ng Keng Fun stays alone in Singapore while his wife lives in Indonesia. 

He contends with chronic issues such as hypertension and heart problems. His frail legs pose not only mobility issues but also heighten fall risk. 

Grateful for the Listening Ear

The Agency for Integrated Care - Tampines Central referred him to the Singapore Red Cross' (SRC) ElderAid programme. 

Since enrolling in the ElderAid programme in September 2019, Mr Ng has benefitted from the priceless gift of friendship, regular home visits and call checks by the Community Befrienders, aimed at mitigating social isolation. By bridging the gap between isolated seniors and the community, the Community Befrienders provide seniors with the companionship and wraparound interventions they need to lead happy and healthy lives, as they age in place. 

During the home visits, Community Befrienders, trained in Standard First Aid, Befriending and Psychological First Aid, offer a listening ear and a safe space for Mr Ng to confide in his problems. In doing so, our Befrienders ensure his emotional, and social well-being.

"I am grateful for the Community Befrienders' regular visits as they enabled me to interact with others. Otherwise, I will be alone at home with no one to talk to. I am touched by the Community Befrienders' care and concern. Instead of treating us like beggars or merely numbers, they offer a listening ear to my problems," Mr Ng said in Mandarin.

With his introverted disposition and mobility issues, he has declined to go on social outings and activities organised by the Community Befrienders. 

However, Mr Ng is immensely thankful to the ElderAid Community Befrienders who have gone the extra mile to help him. Besides helping him to purchase groceries, one of the ElderAid Community Befrienders even dipped into her pocket to pay for his wife's airfare to and from Indonesia to visit him. 

Receiving Customised Care Packages

Apart from that, Mr Ng is thankful that the ElderAid team meticulously curated, packed and distributed customised care packages to him and other seniors amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specially tailored to meet each senior's specific needs and preferences, the customised care packages comprised medical supplies, and necessities such as instant coffee, and milk powder. Some of the customised care packages were funded by Maybank.

"I felt cared for. I was assured by the knowledge that I did not have to worry about procuring those necessities on my own, given my mobility issues, and the high risk of contracting COVID-19. Thank you, Singapore Red Cross and Maybank," Mr Ng said in Mandarin. 

Thankful that HoME+ Safeguards His Safety and Well-Being

Apart from grappling with loneliness, Mr Ng was concerned about his safety and well-being. Plagued by hypertension, heart problems and heightened fall risk, Mr Ng's greatest fear was collapsing alone at home, without anyone's knowledge or assistance.

ElderAid Community Befrienders then directed him to SRC's Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) system, a 24/7 non-intrusive, alert and response system, safeguarding the safety and well-being of the seniors living alone, facilitating community ageing-in-place.

Since the installation of the HoME+ system in his home in December 2021, Mr Ng feels more assured. The panic buttons were installed conveniently and accessibly; one was mounted on the wall beside Mr Ng's bed, and another was a portable panic button that he carried around with him in his home. He simply needs to press the panic button whenever he requires help. If Mr Ng activates the panic button, he will receive a call from the call centre to check on him. If he does not pick up the phone calls, the Community Responders, who are extensively trained in vitals monitoring, proper escalation procedures, and client communication, will be deployed to render assistance.

However, the HoME+ service comes with a $48 monthly subscription fee which Mr Ng could ill afford as he is not working due to his chronic illnesses and mobility issues. However, following an employee's assessment validating that Mr Ng could not afford the HoME+ services, Mr Ng has benefitted from corporate funding raised by the SRC for seniors struggling economically to take up such a service.

"With the HoME+ system installed at home, I am assured of my safety, that Community Responders would come to my aid in the event of an emergency. Thank you, Singapore Red Cross!" Mr Ng said. 

Mr Ng's story serves as a reminder of the indispensable role that volunteers play in befriending seniors to stave off social isolation while ensuring their emotional and social well-being. Community Befrienders also play the integral role of ensuring the security and physical well-being of seniors and persons with disabilities living alone. Collectively, volunteers exemplify that compassion binds people and communities together. 

By Sondra Foo, Marketing & Communications

Inspired? Volunteer or donate to the Singapore Red Cross.