If This Could Stay Permanent

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Simple and meaningful. This was what I thought when I heard about the pilot volunteer programme between Heartware Network and Thye Hua Kwan Home Help Services.

This programme was an initiative to accompany the elderly for their medical appointments at hospitals. Walk into a clinic and you might spot seniors left waiting alone for a considerable amount of time. Some struggle with administrative procedures because they are illiterate in English. My heart aches for these elderly; I hope my grandparents never have to experience this. Having volunteers help out at the clinic might make the long waiting hours manageable, and perhaps even enjoyable for the elderly. I had faith in this idea, and it did not let me down.

On 5 December 2017, I participated in the first pilot test at Changi General Hospital. It was my first time doing something like this, and I was actually quite nervous because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was attached to Thye Hua Kwan Home Help Services staff, Jonathan, and observed the full escort service procedure. From boarding a wheelchair-friendly van to escorting the elderly down from their homes, I marvelled at Jonathan’s patience and composure each time there were slight delays. Did you know that these transits also counts best for get-to-know sessions?

I remember on the way to the hospital, Jonathan tried to make small talk with a shy Indian elderly. The uncle gradually warmed up to his company and began sharing his own stories. He laughed heartily at Jonathan’s jokes throughout his clinic visit. By the end of it, the uncle gently picked up Jonathan’s hand and thanked him. Jonathan, touched by this sincere act of gratitude, wished him the best of health. It was a very precious and heart-warming moment, something you cannot experience easily everyday.

The very next day, I had the wonderful opportunity to accompany an elderly who reminded me so much of my aged grandmother. She had a sweet and amiable personality, and was always rewarding us with smiles and “thank you’s” as we wheeled her around.

Time passed by quick when I was having fun. I could now muster the courage to make small talk with the elderly. The small milestones with her felt so precious and valuable, that I felt terribly sorry to break her hopes when she requested us to escort her the next time.  We gently explained to the elderly that it might not be possible to always have the same escort. She simply smiled and nodded her head in acceptance. If only this moment could stretch a little longer…

Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worth living.” I thought of this quote on my way home from my last engagement in the programme. The experience gave me the ability to understand the true value behind those words, and I was overcome with emotions.

I was able to bring smiles to the elderly’s faces and listen to their stories. I created unforgettable memories I now keep close to my heart.

This article was written by Lim Bi Hui, Intern at Heartware Network.

The Support Our Pioneers programme aims to bridge the inter-generational gap and promote active ageing by empowering youths to reach out and serve the elderly.

Join our volunteer team to make bi-monthly home visitations and organise activities and outings for the elderly. Click here to find out more!

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