Building a community of care in Bedok


When her medication for high blood pressure made her feel giddy, Mdm Chew Siam Hiang stopped taking them altogether. Naturally, the nurse who saw her almost every week was alarmed. Says Ms Tan Xin En: “With her pressure in the 150 to 160 range, I told her she cannot stop taking her medication. She had to go back to the doctor to ask for a change in the drugs.” Ms Tan could keep a close watch on Mdm Chew as she was not stationed at a polyclinic nor a hospital, but the void deck of Blk 33A Bedok South Avenue 2, just two blocks away from where Mdm Chew lived. The nurse’s weekly visits started when grassroots leaders noticed that there were seniors who did not visit the polyclinic. So they thought having a nurse provide basic health monitoring and counselling to seniors living in the area might be a good idea. The Nurse@RC initiative was thus born. Says Mdm Chew: “Because of the nurse, I finally had my medication changed and now my condition is under control.”

The initiative makes up just one part of a larger plan to transform the Bedok Sunflower Residents’ Committee Centre into a hub of activities and services to better meet the needs of seniors. RC members also hold regular health talks and brisk walks while the Eastern Health Alliance was brought in to train volunteers on how to befriend other seniors and look out for tell-tale signs of declining health, whether physically, emotionally or socially. To date, the dedicated volunteer pool has quadrupled from the original 20. And when there are major events, as many as 600 volunteers come forward to help. Says RC Chairman Mr Ngoh Chan Boon: “There are just over 1,000 seniors above 65 years old living in the 11 blocks around this area. In time to come, the numbers will increase. If we can see how to support them, they will in turn support others.”

The support 68-year-old Mdm Chew has received has given her an impetus to exercise and stay healthy. “I have a problem with my leg so I can’t walk for too long distances and the doctors don’t know what is the problem. But knowing that there’s a community here I can count on and through regular exercise, I have gone from relying on my husband to wheel me down in a wheelchair to walking here on my own.”

As a nurse for the last four decades, Mdm Rosemary Lee has just about seen it all. But then she found out that there were ‘so many’ homebound seniors living in her neighbourhood. How did she react? What did she do?

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