Yong Yin Hoong, Assistant Manager, TOUCH Senior Activity Centre (Geylang Bahru), Intermediate and Long-Term Care, Honourable Mention Winner, Healthcare Humanity Awards 2019
Photo credit: TOUCH Community Services
“I’ve always wanted to work with seniors, and I got my chance in 2006. I was 48 and decided to do a mid-career switch to join TOUCH Community Services. I have been caring for vulnerable seniors in the community since.
I now oversee the TOUCH Senior Activity Centre’s daily activities, as well as engage volunteers to be the eyes on the ground in addressing seniors’ needs. Having been in the sector for 13 years now, I have had many memorable encounters with seniors. I’ll always try my best to help them solve their problems.
Helping seniors age in place is something that is close to my heart. That’s why I initiated a few projects, such as “IshopUPay”. For this initiative, we engage corporate volunteers to take frail seniors or seniors in wheelchairs out for morning strolls at the Kallang Riverside, have breakfast at the hawker centre, followed by shopping at supermarkets. Through this, we hope to achieve two purposes – one, to provide sustained efforts to help seniors enjoy a better quality of life, and two, to create a platform where seniors and volunteers can interact.
Another project close to my heart is the Home Improvement project. I worked with community stakeholders, students and individual volunteers to help improve the living conditions of around 300 frail seniors so that they can live in a safe home environment.
Through this project, I deal quite a fair bit with seniors who are hoarders and would work with them to declutter their homes. I remember the time when I visited the home of a brother and sister, who were 80 and 81 years old respectively. When the sister needed to be hospitalised, the paramedics took half an hour just to get her out from the toilet as the home was filled with items piled as high as the ceiling. I took the opportunity to persuade the brother to clean up the home to make it safer for his sister's return after being discharged. Together with volunteers, we took more than three months to clean, paint and refurbish the house.
We were glad to make their home environment better so that the siblings can improve their living conditions and quality of life.
I have also worked with fitter seniors to train them as volunteers so that they can befriend frail and lonely seniors under the Seniors Caring for Seniors programme. Around 60 seniors have been trained on how to effectively communicate with other seniors and handle wheelchairs.
The work at TOUCH Senior Activity Centre is about improving the lives of seniors – in activating their potential, building independence, connecting seniors with the community and impacting their lives in their golden years. I believe that to truly make a difference in seniors’ lives, we need to build a relationship not just with the seniors, but also with their caregivers and volunteers.”