Recognising the Strengths of Our Seniors in the Community

The network of seven MWS Senior Activity Centres (SACs) run by Methodist Welfare Services do more than just organise activities to engage seniors aged 55 and above.

They have been applying the Asset-Based Community-led Development (ABCD) approach, which involves activating seniors to take charge of their own physical and psychosocial health. This shifts their role from service users to co-creators and contributors.

Towards this end, a Council of Seniors was formed to provide peer leadership and play a major role in planning and leading activities. These activities included wellness and exercise programmes conducted in collaboration with volunteers and community partners.

From participant to peer leader

Mdm Ang Bong Chee was a senior who had signed up for the 8-week “Rolling with Wellness” programme at MWS Senior Activity Centre – Teck Ghee Vista. Led by a health coach from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), the programme advocated exercises, healthy cooking tips and board games.

Noting her positive and optimistic attitude, the spritely 70-year-old was nominated by her health coach as a Peer Support Leader (PSL) to lead various tasks such as taking attendance, reminding fellow seniors to come for classes and explaining the class contents.

When the programme ended, Mdm Ang took the initiative to continue conducting small group exercise sessions with the seniors at the SAC. She had earlier picked up digital skills, which enabled her to do Google searches and make electronic payments. This spurred the tech-savvy senior to look for instructional videos and content on the Internet, and share them with her peers during the exercise sessions.

“I like to exercise, as well as share what I’ve learnt. Instead of enjoying exercising on my own, I like to share this joy with others. When I see the seniors benefit from it, I’m very happy. Furthermore, I can make many friends and not be disconnected from society,” said Mdm Ang.

Her desire to help fellow seniors extended beyond the “classroom”. During the circuit breaker period, Mdm Ang was concerned about the welfare of those living alone or who had mobility issues. She took the initiative to call them to check on their well-being, and assist in various ways.

“I built a very good relationship with some of the seniors. They trust me very much and asked me to collect the TraceTogether tokens for them,” she said.

She also helped out over the weekends, where she would visit the seniors and lend them her mobile phone to check out online learning courses.

When I see the seniors benefit from it, I’m very happy. Furthermore, I can make many friends and not be disconnected from society.

Mdm Ang

Mdm Ang exemplifies the indefatigable spirit of helping others, and we hope she can inspire others her age to give back to the community while staying fit and healthy. For her accomplishments, Mdm Ang was bestowed the Singapore Community Engagement Initiative Award, which seeks to recognise members from the community who lead by example and take ownership to care for themselves and others. It is a new category under the annual TTSH Singapore Patient Action Awards.

Serving amidst the pandemic

Mdm Ang was also eager to come back to MWS SAC – Teck Ghee Vista to lead activities once the circuit breaker was over and physical events could resume. In fact, she has since led several exercise sessions with the seniors with the necessary precautions in place.

“It is such a joy to exercise with seniors in the neighbourhood; we’re just like one big family. As long as everyone cooperates by observing good hygiene, safe distancing and mask-wearing, we can exercise together and stay safe,” she said.

This article was repackaged from Shin Min Daily News (6 Nov 2020) and Lianhe Zaobao (7 Nov 2020), with additional reporting by MWS Communications Team.

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