FIRST Hand volunteers brighten up the day for patients at the Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital.
Contributed By Nathan Calvert
The theater of the Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital was filled with laughter and smiles on Aug. 20, on a Saturday morning. City Harvest Community Services Association’s Patient Care Services, in collaboration with Tan Tock Seng Hospital Rehabilitation Centre at the hospital, ran its first-ever sing-along and games session for patients. The aim of the event was to entertain and bring joy to the hospital patients.
Patients in wheelchairs began gathering in the theater more than half an hour before the scheduled start time of the sing-along. They anticipated an exciting morning; and they were not disappointed. CHCSA counselor, Herman Lim, and his team greeted the patients with smiles and warmth, as they entertained and interacted with those that were gathered; these included stroke victims, patients with brain and spinal injuries, and diabetic patients.
The center’s end goal for its patients is for them to return to their homes after rehabilitation and have the same quality of life as they did before they were admitted. Patients usually spend four to six weeks at the center.
After a welcome game, the program for the morning went underway, beginning with a competition. Participants were divided into groups and had to complete a series of spot-the-difference activities. Thriving on the competitive nature of the game, cheers and the occasional good-natured jeering could be heard as the teams fought against time to be the first to complete the challenge. The winning team received their prize with beaming smiles. The second competition had the participants—ages ranging from 40 to 80—scrambling to piece puzzles; before the fastest team completed the task and claimed their prize.
Once the games had finished, the main event took place—a sing-along that included songs in English, Hokkien and Mandarin. The first song was the Carpenters’ hit, “Top Of The World,” which had the crowd clapping and singing along cheerfully. With the help of a microphone, the sing-along turned into a mini-karaoke session, with the patients participating enthusiastically. One of the highlights of the morning was when everyone sang a nostalgic Mandarin number “Ke Ai De Mei Gui Hua” (“Endearing Rose”); where the volunteers left the patients’ sides for a minute, before returning with a rose for each one of them. The sing-along segment ended with the crowd pleaser entitled “Xiao Ren Wu De Xin Sheng” (“Voices From The Heart”), led by CHCSA volunteer Jack Soh.
CHCSA volunteers also prepared a goodie bag for each of the patients that morning. As the patients were wheeled back to their rooms, the smiles on their faces were evidence that they appreciated the efforts of the volunteers in organizing the morning’s events. Erajen, a 53-year-old second-hand goods salesman and a diabetes amputee told City News that he thoroughly enjoyed the morning. “Being in hospital can be boring, but this event was very fun,” he said.
The CHCSA volunteers, who freely give up their time each Saturday morning, were also pleased with how the sing-along event turned out. One of the volunteers, 26-year-old Carita Ng, a nurse, said, “The morning was pretty successful. I could see that the patients were really enjoying themselves.”
One of the patients present that morning was Karen Liew, a 52-year-old honey promoter. Liew suffered a stroke earlier this year which resulted in a diminished ability to use her arms, legs and voice. She said, “As a stroke patient, being in hospital is not a pleasant experience for me at all. However, I was very happy this morning and I enjoyed the entire program today. The volunteers were very friendly and they created a positive atmosphere among us.” Liew hopes to see more of such events organized. “Hospital patients can be quite downtrodden. Events like this help people to forget what they are going through and be happy again … even for a moment.”
CHCSA works closely with the Care and Counseling department at TTSH. They were approached to start a mobile library service in August 2010. Aisya Bahrin, a senior medical social worker at Tan Tock Seng Rehabilitation Centre, said, “The volunteers are a very committed bunch. They come every Saturday without fail.”
Plans are now underway to hold similar events in the future, such as karaoke nights, movie screenings and Bingo nights.