Getting connected in community

Getting connected in community

Caption: Mdm Sumam (right) with TOUCH’s occupational therapist Ms Brenda Yap.

“It's such a joy to go out and meet my friends. Although I live alone, I am not afraid. People have been so kind to me and I hope to pay it forward one day."

Mdm Sumam, 85, who is single, suffers from hearing impairment and lives alone. She used to lead an active and independent life, cooking her own meals, doing laundry and taking public transport for her medical appointments and to meet friends.

Loving the outdoors, Sumam would always take part in activities organised by other social service agencies. One day, TOUCH staff, Mdm Tracy Lee, knocked on her door and invited her to drop by the newly opened TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 located near her block.

Drawing closer to residents
Mdm Sumam was initially hesitant to go as she did not know anyone there. All that changed when she met her ex-neighbour Mdm Dhana, 68, who became her befriender. They would exercise together and attend art & craft sessions and festive celebrations at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433.

sumam with friends lowres
Caption: Mdm Sumam (in white) surrounded by friends at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 before the pandemic

One of her most memorable moments was learning how to use her smart phone as part of the Digitally Ready Seniors Programme by TOUCH. The training sessions ended with a special visit to Facebook’s corporate office.

group sumam lowres
Caption: Mdm Suman (front row fourth from right) at the special visit to the Digital Inclusion Festival at Lifelong Learning Institute.

“I never imagine I could be trained to use my smart phone at my age. I am always learning new things together with my friends. It makes my life more interesting and meaningful, “ says Mdm Sumam.

However, Mdm Sumam’s life took a bad turn in August 2019 when she fell from her bed at home and sustained a fracture on her left arm. She quickly called TOUCH staff Tracy for help and was rushed to the hospital. She was then transferred to a community hospital, where she spent six weeks rehabilitating from her injuries.

"I was fearful of going outdoors and falling again. It was frustrating because I could not do the things I used to do," Mdm Sumam adds.

During this period, Tracy recommended TOUCH Home Care’s (THC) services as Mdm Sumam needed help to prepare meals, keep her home clean and go for medical appointments. Her brother, who lives overseas, was also happy to learn that she would be under the good care of TOUCH.

The road to recovery
To further strengthen her balance, Mdm Sumam was also referred to TOUCH Day Rehabilitation Centre at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433. Resident volunteers would accompany her twice a week for her therapy sessions. TOUCH’s occupational therapist worked on her upper limbs to enable her to resume her activities, while the physiotherapist trained her standing balance and exercise endurance to help her walk confidently to her frequently visited places in the community. 

Caption: Mdm Sumam (right) having a lively conversation with Ms Brenda Yap (left), TOUCH's occupational therapist before the pandemic.

Caption: Motivated to stay fit and well during the pandemic

Happy session Mdm Sumam
Caption: Mdm Sumam (middle) exercising with residents at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433

“Mdm Sumam is someone who knows what she wants in life. She is a highly motivated individual who is always willing to listen to feedback and suggestions on how to get better. She is very disciplined in her home exercises and always looks forward to her therapy sessions,” says Ms Brenda Yap, Occupational Therapist, TOUCH Home Care.

After three months of therapy, Mdm Sumam could walk steadily to TOUCHpoint@AMK 433, Chong Boon Market and other places in her neighbourhood. She has also regained her confidence to manage housework chores on her own.

Paying it forward
During the pandemic, with the suspension of some activities at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433, Mdm Sumam continued to attend therapy sessions at the centre and exercise alongside residents to stay fit. Friends in the community chipped in to help, from running errands to teaching her to navigate her smart phone.

Caption: Mdm Sumam (middle) with befrienders at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433

Mdm Sumam in 2024
Caption: Mdm Sumam looking radiant in 2024

“It's such a joy to go out and meet my friends. Although I live alone, I am not afraid. People have been so kind to me and I hope to pay it forward one day," says Mdm Sumam.

Just last month, Mdm Sumam approached TOUCH and expressed her wish to donate all her CDC vouchers to someone needy in her neighbourhood.

"This is the least I can do. I am grateful for what I have and I hope to bring cheer to others," added Mdm Sumam.

Published in 2020.
Updated in 2023 & 2024