This article was first published in 2016 on Bright Vision Hospital’s ‘Share a Story’ column for volunteers.
By Tang Wai San, Executive Director of ACE Seniors
We have been organising National Day celebrations at community hospitals and nursing homes since 2014. Starting with one community hospital that year, the event has since grown to include five venues in the next two years. Our goal for the celebrations is to bring National Day celebrations to frail elderly who are unable to attend the ‘Live’ celebration at the stadium or at home with their families. We hope that the success of these events will set the pace for an inclusive NDP celebration across the island – including the frail elderly.
Bright Vision Hospital was the first community hospital who supported this event in 2014. During that National Day, there were 73 volunteers who decorated the hospital and celebrated with the patients as the ‘live’ telecast of the National Day Parade was shown on the projector screen. As some palliative patients were unable to join in the festivities, we brought the celebrations to them by decorating their wards and bed frames with paper flowers and icons of Singapore, such as Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay and the Merlion. It reminded them that they are not forgotten and also instilled in them a sense of pride being Singaporeans.
During that day, Bright Vision’s Yen Pei Hall was decorated with multi-colored paper flowers, balloons and Singapore’s national flags to usher in the celebrations. A photo booth was set up where patients wore tall hats and sunglasses to look their best for a picture to be taken. Additionally, a photo album was given to every patient to preserve their memories of the day. Games stall of yesteryear which reminded the elderly patients of their childhood were also set up around the hall.
Though the target audience of the National Day Celebrations were the patients, everyone present at the event – volunteers, patients’ families, staff and caregivers of Bright Vision Hospital enjoyed the celebration as much as the frail elderly patients. It was extremely heartwarming to see the patients joining in the National Day songs, standing up to sing the national anthem and reciting the pledge. Even the simple act of waving the flag showed the patient’s pride of being a Singaporean.
Seeing the smiles on the patients’ faces as they watched the performance, enjoyed the games or chatted with the volunteers gave us great joy, and we felt that all the preparation efforts in making the celebration a success was worthwhile. While working with the staff at Bright Vision Hospital, we got to learn a lot about the lives of the patients in the community, learning about their likes and their daily needs.
During the celebrations at Bright Vision Hospital, we learnt to serve the frail elderly but we were also blessed by them. While going through our feedback forms after the event, I noticed one volunteer’s remark on his most memorable moment – “I got to interact with elders, they are friendly and lovely, and I had fun”. Another volunteer described her experience which certainly summed up our celebrations at Bright Vision Hospital: “the old auntie smiled after her makeup, picked up a flower to wear. She was so happy and so were we”.
Tang Wai San is the Executive Director of ACE Seniors. Since 2014, she has led the organising committee in bringing National Day celebrations to community hospitals and nursing homes across Singapore. This year, the celebrations will happen across 15 locations, involving various volunteers from all walks of life. If you’d like to find out more about the annual programme, drop Wai San an email or call 6509 8680.