Between July and November, I had the opportunity to spend a series of days working with the team at the NTUC Health SilverACE Senior Activity Centre (SAC) @ Jalan Bukit Merah.
You may think that the pace of things would be slow, given that the SAC is working with elderly after all. That’s not entirely true. Though exercises and games are toned down from what I’m used to, not once in my day at the SAC did things get repetitive. Under the passionate guidance of Chee Mei, Jacquelyn and Veronica, I partook in most of the wide-ranging daily activities with the clients, organised and led a few myself.
In addition to the few exercise and games sessions I organised, there were also cooking classes, Zumba, health briefings and monthly gatherings which I assisted in conducting. Part of the day would also be spent on house-visits to the clients. Sometimes we would have goody bags to deliver, sometimes it would be simply to chat, check-in on them and encourage them to join in for our activities later. There would also be the occasional call to help an elderly with his furniture or set up his TV etc. which I really enjoyed!
A few times during the attachments, I was pushed beyond my comfort zone in my interactions with the clients but I feel I am better for it. For example, when I was tasked to conduct one-to-one interviews with the elderly, the cloud of communication difficulty hung over my head but in the end it proved to be no unsurmountable problem!
I would like to take this chance to say I feel that the staff at the SAC are doing a good job! I admire their dedication to their work and genuine kindness they show in their daily interactions with the clients. They are certainly well skilled in multiple languages and in communicating and building rapport with the elderly. I’m grateful for their guidance and accommodation when I was there.
My biggest takeaway from my time with the SAC is quite simply a better understanding of the vulnerable group of elderly and low-income groups living virtually unseen in our society. I think that I am less self-centred and more gracious with my time and attention now. Whether familiar or strangers on the street, I better appreciate them for who they are — their challenges, their successes and their stories.
About the author: Ben Ooi is a final year SMU Accounting undergraduate and IRONMAN World Championship Triathlete. He performed his SNCF offsite-internship with one of its affiliates, NTUC Health.