Welfare

‘Home residents are so much a part of my extended family’

Apr 2008    

PART 8: THE SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTRY OF THE METHODIST WELFARE SERVICES

Mahmood, Christalite Methodist Home’s Senior Welfare Officer, is always thinking about what else he can do to improve the residents’ quality of life.

‘IJOINED Christalite Methodist Home (CMH) in February 1997 while our would-be residents were still staying at Woodlands Home for the Aged (WHA). While waiting for them to be transferred here, I was one of those understudying at WHA to learn how to take care of them.

Eleven years have since passed and I have never regretted my decision to leave my teaching job to become a welfare officer at CMH. The love of being with the elderly is what keeps me here.

Even on the rare occasions that I go on leave, I think about what else I can do to improve the quality of life of our elderly residents. They are so much a part of my extended family.

I believe it is the strong relationships which I have built up over the years with them that enable me to manage them better. My cell phone is always by my bedside because sometimes the staff on duty would call at 2 o’clock in the morning because they are unable to deal with difficult residents.

I am married with four children and I am blessed to have the support of my wife when it comes to my work. My eldest child, aged 27, is a radiographer and the second, aged 25, is a staff nurse. The younger ones are aged 14 and 11 respectively. You can say that my older children were influenced by my second career. I tell my family stories about our residents and I often share with them my days at work. I sometimes consult my daughter, who is a staff nurse at the Institute of Mental Health, about how we can better manage some residents.

Dealing with the elderly sometimes requires us to act as if we are handling little children. For instance, we have one elderly woman who sometimes refuses to take her medication. Called to intervene, I would play a guessing game with her. I would put the medicine in one hand and ask her to guess which hand it was in and if she guessed wrongly she would take the medicine. It works all the time!

The most challenging part of my job is to deal with new residents who are very reserved. If a newcomer does not communicate with us we will not know whether he is sick or he needs medication. The challenge to me is, how to break the ice and make the person interact.

The aggressive ones are not a problem because they usually communicate their needs. It is those who are quiet that we are worried about because we do not know their history or even if they feel unwell. My years here have made me a more relaxed person. I do not get stressed easily. I have also become more patient towards others. I now have a better understanding of the ageing process and I know about the many health problems that beset the elderly so that I can help them to cope or manage their illness. For example, I have seen the different stages of diabetes take their toll on a resident, Ah Boon (not his real name).

Ah Boon was one of our first able-bodied residents who was put on the Resident Employment Scheme as a hospital escort. Years after he developed diabetes, his leg had to be amputated and he is now wheelchair-bound. It is very sad. But when people visit us, I always tell them that Ah Boon is my best worker in CMH as a way of acknowledging him. We are very close and he inspires me a lot.

When I am rendering help to a person, I do not think of his religion or race. Helping is without borders. For me there is no such thing as retirement too. I will continue to serve at CMH for as long as I can.’

Christalite Methodist Home is a community outreach of the Methodist Welfare Services and Christ Methodist Church.
Address: 51 Marsiling Drive, Singapore 739297
Tel: 6368-5179 Fax: 6368-7127 Email: admin@cmh.mws.org.sg

Christalite Methodist Home

ESTABLISHED in 1997, Christalite Methodist Home (CMH) caters to homeless people referred by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

The home can accommodate up to 200 people. Currently there are 174 residents, aged 23 to 90 years. Of these, 107 are normal and able-bodied; 39 are mentally challenged and 50 are wheelchair-bound.

One of the important initiatives of CMH is the Resident Employment Scheme, where able-bodied residents are given jobs around the home – as hospital escorts, gardeners, wheelchair pushers, laundry workers, cleaners and handymen – and are paid a token sum.

The residents’ self-esteem gets a boost because the scheme enables them to earn money by their own efforts. This helps with the rehabilitation process as it gives them the confidence to eventually take on jobs outside the home, and in the long run, be able to support themselves and live on their own again.

Four residents are currently employed outside CMH as security guards and cleaners.

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