Caption: Mdm Chew learning to get around in her mobility scooter
“I have peace of mind as I know TOUCH and my friends here in Ang Mo Kio will continue to journey with me. I will never be alone.”
Rain or shine, 76-year-old Mdm Chew Siew Lay has been faithfully coming to TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 for her regular exercises. Even during the pandemic, she made it a point to drop by TOUCHpoint@AMK 433. One of the fun activities she tried was Belly Dancing.
“I was bored doing things on my own for so long. Being able to exercise together with my neighbours at TOUCHpoint makes a big difference. As I have weak joints, I will sit on the chair and sway my arms. It doesn’t matter if we laugh at one another’s mistake as we are friends,” said Mdm Chew.
In her younger days, Mdm Chew loved to dance. She would dance with friends at parties or festive celebrations. The familiar rhythms and movements brought back fond memories of her colourful past.
Caption: Mdm Chew (middle) enjoying a lively exercise session with Ang Mo Kio residents
Mdm Chew has come a long way since she suffered a backbone fracture and went for knee replacement surgery several years ago. Plagued by osteoarthritis in both knees and persistent numbness in her legs, she had to make frequent trips to the polyclinic.
Thanks to her elderly neighbour, Mdm Han Kim Eng, a befriendee under TOUCH’s Community Befriending Programme, who flagged her case to TOUCH staff as she felt her friend needed help at home. It was a life changer.
Caption: Mdm Chew (second from right) and befriendee Mdm Han (second from left) feeling at home at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433
Since then, Mdm Chew smiles more readily and looks forward to weekly breakfast sessions with her neighbours. Moving beyond a recipient, she has found ways to show kindness to others, such as cooking special meals for her friends and TOUCH staff.
Feeling secure in her neighbourhood
During the pandemic, volunteers stood outside her gate to teach Mdm Chew how to use her smart phone. She achieved a breakthrough when she succeeded in managing a WhatsApp video call on her own at home.
In times of distress, her befrienders were there to support her emotionally and to provide practical help. For example, when Mdm Chew had a fall at home in October 2022, one of her befrienders alerted TOUCH. Another befriender living nearby also visited her to see how she was doing. Upon her discharge from the hospital, they ordered food for her and accompanied her for medical appointments.
In 2023, Mdm Chew experienced some medical issues and needed further support at home. As part of efforts to provide better care amidst her changing needs, she was placed on the Home Personal Care Plus (HPC+) service, supported by the Tote Board Community Health Fund (TBCHF). With HPC+, Mdm Chew now receives regular check-ins, medication reminders and help in accessing community resources to keep her well and active.
Caption: Mdm Chew (right) enjoying the company of senior care associate Ms Nelly Naw (left) from the HPC+ team
Mdm Chew began receiving weekly housekeeping services and custodial support during and after her medical treatment.
She also achieved a significant milestone when she agreed to work with TOUCH’s occupational therapist, who prescribed her a mobility scooter due to her reduced lower limb strength, which affected her ability to walk longer distances. She was soon able to resume an active life, meeting friends and keeping fit at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433.
Senior care associate Ms Nelly Naw now accompanies Mdm Chew once a week to the market to get her groceries and run errands. Mdm Chew alternates between using her walking frame and mobility scooter to get around her neighbourhood.
"It helps to have someone by my side to manage difficult tasks. I have peace of mind as I know TOUCH and my friends here in Ang Mo Kio will continue to journey with me. I will never be alone,” said Mdm Chew.
Caption: Mdm Chew (right) looking confident with occupational therapist Ms Lynn Kok (left)
Despite Mdm Chew’s physical condition, she still encourages other seniors to stay fit and continues to keep a lookout for those in need.
“In life, you need to think positive. Have something to hope for and it will help motivate you to get there, “added Mdm Chew.
Story published in 2020
Updated in 2023