City Harvest Church made a donation from the offerings collected at its first all-night prayer meeting to Apex Harmony Lodge, a home for dementia patients.
By Dawn Seow
Situated amidst the lush greenery of Pasir Ris, Singapore, Apex Harmony Lodge offers a sanctuary to more than 200 persons suffering from dementia. The center not only provides a safe place for its clients where their physical needs are met, it also helps them maintain their dignity, whether they are bedbound or able-bodied.
A team from City Harvest Church visited the home on Sep. 13 to make a donation towards AHL’s work. This donation came from the offerings collected at CHC’s first all-night prayer meeting on Sep. 8. The church is committed to donating part of the offerings collected from each prayer meeting to a charity organization each week.
Deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng explains that it is important for the church to continue doing good work, even in the face of difficult times. “CHC has always wanted to find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it, and the members still wants to do so. Our donation is basically to show the heart of the church.”
Tan, together with a group of CHC workers, visited AHL to understand its operations, and to make the donation that day.
CARING FOR THE MENTALLY-CHALLENGED
Since April 1999, AHL has been providing quality care to dementia clients and their caregivers. Stepping into the residential wings of the Lodge, one discovers a cozy living area decorated with handmade lanterns and other handicrafts. The center’s staff explained that the lanterns were made by the patients at their Day Care Center, an activity that helps their minds and senses active.
An environment that feels like home is what AHL aims to provide to its residents. Built to cater to the special needs of dementia patients, the 6,500 sq m building contains small self-enclosed units to enable the patients to identify the place as their dwelling. This also enables them to walk around independently with minimum supervision, without the danger of them wandering off the premises.
AHL consists of seven residential wards holding 210 beds, and a day-care center which caters to 20 patients. Each ward is fully self-contained with its own dining area, relaxation room, bathrooms fitted with assists and a visitor’s lounge, where family members can spend quality time with the residents. AHL also features an in-house physiotherapy room for patients and residents.
Dementia is a loss of brain function that may occur alongside the onset of certain diseases; it affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. While the condition usually occurs in old age, dementia can also be caused by brain injury, stroke, chronic alcohol abuse and other factors, and so younger adults can also be at risk. The youngest patient in AHL’s day care center is in her 40s.
Most types of dementia are non-reversible and degenerative, and patients suffering from it have difficulty performing certain tasks and recalling information from their short-term memory. To help stimulate the resident’s brain activities, AHL conducts simple activities like card games and lantern-making in its living areas daily. Pictures of fruits and simple words are also pasted all around the main halls to help residents remember.
A small sensory garden at a corner of the Lodge feature herbs that are used in many Chinese dishes, like the lemongrass, basil, and curry leaves. AHL’s staff explained that the smell of the leaves help trigger the long-term memory of dementia patients. A panel of wall with different textures with a ceiling of colorful textiles sits next to the garden, where residents can feel the different surfaces which may trigger their memory.
While the facilities at AHL provide a good environment for the dementia residents, its staff explained that it is challenging to raise funds for the running of the center. Even though the government provide subsidies for the fees of their residents, there is still a need for AHL to raise its own funds to pay for its daily operations. Its challenge is thus to raise enough funds every year and also to find volunteers who can help conduct activities for the residents.
“When the volunteers come, they can teach the residents to do simple craft work, or they simply talk and interact with them,” said AHL’s spokesperson.
GIVING BACK TO THE SOCIETY
Tan commented that “it was a privilege for us to see what other people in the community are doing for the needy, especially Apex Harmony Lodge which is serving dementia patients. It is not an easy task and it’s heartening to see them putting in so much effort in this work.
“It is good to support the good work that they are doing.”
AHL only admits people living with dementia. The residents are mostly referred to the home through the Ministry of Health and priority is given to families from lower income homes, as they cannot be cared for at home because their families are unable to afford hired help.
Executive director of AHL, Kevin Poh, said that the Lodge, having served the community for the last 13 years, will be undergoing a much needed renovation for the first time. Though MOH would fund 90% of the total renovation costs, the Lodge would need to raise the remaining 10% or S$300,000. The S$15,000 donation from City Harvest Church shall be designated towards raising the remaining 10%.
If you are interested to donate or volunteer at the Apex Harmony Lodge, visit their website http://www.apexharmony.org.sg/