Neglected, scorned, ignored. That is often the fate of many who have reached their golden years, particularly those in the lower-income bracket. But a team of volunteers from the Community Outreach Program for the Elderly (COPE) plan to nip this problem in the bud by befriending the elderly through a series of interactive programs.
COPE volunteers make weekly home visitations and provide a full range of free services such as household maintenance and escorting the elderly to medical check-ups. As part of the program, groceries and meals are distributed daily to 124 senior citizens who reside in one-room and two-room HDB flats. These energetic helpers also organize regular recreational programs to keep the elderly entertained.
Recently, they organized an excursion to the Singapore Flyer on 23 November to celebrate Grandparents’ Day. Over 80 elderly persons and their family members went onboard the Singapore Flyer at dawn and were treated to a bird eye’s view of the city from 165 metres up.
Partnering with the South East Community Development Council (SECDC) and City Harvest Community Services Association (CHCSA), COPE reaches out to a total of 422 households in the Old Airport Road area, and Toa Payoh district every month. Since 1999, the volunteer pool, comprising teenagers and adults, has grown from 20 to more than 50.
To be better equipped to assist the elderly, COPE volunteers from CHCSA were trained under the Holistic and Professional Eldercare Initiative (HOPE), a joint project by South East CDC and New Changi General Hospital. Their spirit of loving and serving the elderly was also passed on to a new generation as they roped in secondary school students through a Community Involvement Programme.
With a revolutionary campaign like COPE, hopefully, it won’t take too long for every elderly folk in Singapore to feel loved, dignified, and cherished.