Tuesday 17 December 2019

Caring for the elderly and people with disabilities

Home-bathing service for seniors who are bed-bound
Team of 3 needed for a bath; bulk of cost subsidised by Montfort Care
By Theresa Tan, Senior Social Affairs Correspondent, The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2019

Mr Haron, an 84-year-old former cleaner, had not had a proper bath for at least six years after a stroke left him bedridden, incontinent and unable to speak.

His 73-year-old wife said she and their maid were unable to lift him from the bed onto a wheelchair to bathe him in the toilet. So, they used a towel to wipe him clean twice a day.

She said: "I feel so much better that the team from Montfort Care comes to bathe him so he doesn't smell. He is also happy that he is clean, and when he is happy, I am happy," she said, declining to reveal their full names.

Since about four months ago, Montfort Care has helped to bathe Mr Haron. His wife pays $15 for the service each time.

In November last year, Montfort Care, a charity which runs family service centres, among other services, started its home-bathing service for bed-bound seniors.

These elderly suffer from strokes, advanced dementia or other medical conditions and are unable to bathe themselves.

Its director of Eldercare Services, Ms Wang Yu Hsuan, said that for those who are bedridden, getting a regular bath is not easy, especially when their caregivers are also frail and elderly. So, they will only be wiped down with a towel in their beds, for example.

She said the lack of a proper bath affects their hygiene and self-esteem. Ms Wang added: "We have learnt that a bath is often taken for granted. Our clients don't feel comfortable and they are not happy they don't get a proper bath. Old and bed-bound people also want to look good and smell good."

So, the charity imported a special bathing tub, which cost a five-figure sum, from a vendor in Taiwan. The 10kg tub is assembled in the senior's home.

A team of three staff is needed to bathe a person, including a nursing aide who checks on the senior's vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate.

If his vital signs are all right, the elderly person is lifted into the bathtub - which is filled with warm water to aid blood circulation - and the staff will bathe him. They use a towel to cover the senior to protect his dignity.

So far, Montfort Care has given regular baths to 30 seniors, many of whom are in their 80s.

However, their youngest patient is a 34-year-old woman who suffers from cerebral palsy and is bed-bound. Her mother, who is in her 60s, cares for her and her sister, who is a stroke patient.

Families pay between $12 and $45 per bath, depending on their financial situation. Each session takes about two hours.

Ms Wang said there are no government subsidies for this service, and the bulk of the cost is subsidised by Montfort Care. It costs the charity $240 each time to bathe one person.

In Japan and Taiwan, the fees for a home-bathing service can be claimed under the national long-term care insurance, she said.

In Singapore, Montfort Care has received feedback from caregivers that clients enjoy the service, and many often sleep better after a good bath.

Ms Wang said: "The smiles on their faces is something the team often look forward to."

• Those interested to find out more can call on 9815-7190.

Mobile clinic brings TCM service to frail elderly
By Theresa Tan, Senior Social Affairs Correspondent, The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2019

Here is a clinic that is literally on the move.

In 2017, the Cheng Hong Welfare Service Society started a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) mobile clinic in a van, where the public can consult a TCM physician, get acupuncture treatment and obtain medicine.

Cheng Hong's executive director Juliet Lum said the charity recognised the growing demand for TCM services, especially among the frail elderly who may have mobility problems and find it hard to travel far to see a doctor.

Its partners, which run services for the elderly, also requested a mobile TCM clinic.

Ms Lum said: "Our mobile clinic makes it more convenient for patients to see the TCM doctor."

The service is free, and the mobile clinic operates in two different locations a day on weekdays - one from 9am to noon, and another from 2 to 5pm.

It operates in 10 locations across Singapore, including the 7 Beach Road carpark, 90 Pipit Road and 560 Pasir Ris Street 51.

Cheng Hong also runs eight TCM clinics, among other services.

Ms Lum said more than 3,000 patients have used the mobile TCM clinic, adding: "The response has been positive. Patients will share the effectiveness of the service and introduce others to use the service."

Door-to-door transport service for the disabled
By Theresa Tan, Senior Social Affairs Correspondent, The Straits Times, 16 Dec 2019

It started off as a recreational club for people with disabilities 50 years ago, but the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) has evolved into a charity providing crucial services for the disabled today.

In 1969, a group of 23 people with disabilities - who are known as the association's founding members - came together to set up HWA to socialise and organise activities for the disabled.

HWA president Edmund Wan, 76, who suffers from polio, said: "Most disabled felt lonely as there was very little integration with society then and very little accessibility (for wheelchair users), unlike today, where Singapore is a more inclusive society."

One of HWA's key services, which started in 1980, is to provide transport services to help wheelchair users and people with disabilities to move around, to workplaces or the hospital for appointments. Back then, the public transport system was not wheelchair-friendly and taxis were costly, he added.

Mr Wan said: "Without transport services, the disabled were stuck at home."

Today, the association has 42 vehicles, such as buses and vans, to ferry the disabled around at subsidised rates.

In 1984, the charity started teaching the disabled how to drive in cars specially modified to cater to their needs. For example, a person who has lost the use of his legs can learn to drive a car where the brake and accelerator are controlled by his hands.

The charity runs two rehabilitation centres at Jurong Point Shopping Centre and Whampoa Drive to offer physical rehabilitation for those with disabilities.

It also provides home care services, which brings nursing, physiotherapy and other therapy services to a person's house.

Over the years, it has played a role in improving the welfare of the disabled, such as pushing for ways to make Singapore more disabled-friendly and accessible, Mr Wan said.

It serves about 4,000 beneficiaries a year, and it currently has about 140 staff. The charity is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a dinner on Dec 18.

Ms Grace Ng, 71, who works as a transport officer at the association, uses its transport service to travel between her home and workplace. She was struck by polio as a baby and uses a wheelchair to get around.

She pays over $200 a month for the service.

She said: "The transport service is provided from door to door. It is really very convenient for me."

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