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The New Red Cross Day Activity Centre In Jurong West Supports People With Disabilities & Their Caregivers

We speak to a staff member and a caregiver about the services provided by the Red Cross’ DAC

Photos: Singapore Red Cross

Good news, West-siders – the Singapore Red Cross has recently relocated its Day Activity Centre (DAC) for people with disabilities (PwDs) to Jurong West! It offers both full-day and half-day care services for those aged 16 and above who have physical, neuro-muscular, intellectual or multiple disabilities.

With the new and larger space – the DAC spans 464 square meters – comes new resources and a new programme. People with disabilities who visit the centre get to take part in a wide range of therapeutic services and recreational activities to develop their daily living, social, motor and leisure skills. The goal is to empower them to be self-reliant when performing simple daily tasks, and confident when interacting with others. Many clients have been reported to display wonderful progress in their behaviour and attitude after receiving regular care at the centre. For caregivers, the DAC is a great source of relief and security by knowing that their loved ones are in a safe and inclusive environment. The centre helps lighten their very demanding load, so that caregivers can take time out not only for work and other family responsibilities, but also to take care of their own needs.

If you have a loved one with disabilities and are considering the new Jurong West DAC, hear from the staff and a fellow caregiver about the DAC experience. Fara Roslan, the manager of the Singapore Red Cross’ Day Activity Centre, shares with us about the services available at the new centre and how the rest of the community can get involved. We also learn from Mdm Nuraini Bte Mohd Noor, whose son visits the centre on weekdays, about their DAC experience.

Interview with Fara Roslan, Manager of the Singapore Red Cross Day Activity Centre

Why did the Red Cross choose Jurong West as the new location of the Day Activity Centre?

Fara: The new space in Jurong West allows us to increase the centre capacity to 39, and it will cater to another 10 more when the next block office becomes available in the near future. We are always evolving to meet Singapore’s changing needs and challenges, such as aging caregivers who are less able to care for someone else, the greater space also allows the DAC to increase and diversify the therapies being offered for our clients’ benefit.

What new services and amenities have been introduced at the new centre? How do they accommodate the diverse range of disabilities your clients have?

Fara: Currently, we still accept the same category of clients here in Jurong – PwDs who have physical, neuro-muscular, intellectual or multiple disabilities. At the same time, we take in higher functioning clients as well. With the expansion, we can now offer advanced therapy tools and integrate a mechanical ceiling hoist system. The hoist is a new addition at the DAC@Jurong and it allows us to assist with our clients’ ambulation and gait training. Our clients also enjoy regular recreational activities, such as art & craft, meal preparation, baking and gardening. They particularly look forward to baking as they get to touch and play with different textures. Their senses are stimulated through the smell, touching and mixing of ingredients and tasting the end product.

What is a typical day at the centre like for clients?

Fara: The clients are first dropped off at the centre by their caregivers. Or, for clients living within a 10-kilometre radius of the DAC, they are picked up by the Red Cross TransportAid service from their home, and then brought to the DAC. They get their vital signs taken, go through therapy, have lunch, and more. Our Senior Occupational Therapist will assess and implement individual care programmes for each client, and our Therapy Aides will execute the recommended care plan, supervised by the occupational therapist. The staff will have a schedule on what to do for each client.

Caregivers are welcome to participate at the initial stage when the clients are just starting the programme at the DAC. This will help the client adapt to the DAC environment.

What programmes are available for volunteers and others from the community (especially youths), to help break down the social stigma of disability?

Fara: Singapore Red Cross’ volunteers are part of the world’s largest humanitarian network – there are 14 million active volunteers and counting. By volunteering with SRC, youths are given many opportunities to interact with vulnerable people, some of whom have disabilities. At the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, which is a sister service of the DAC catering to disabled clients who need round-the-clock care, we have families who volunteer together. Parents bring along their children to help feed our residents and this encourages our young to see PwDs as human beings just like everyone. By normalising these interactions, children start to disregard social stigma. It can be a powerful experience for parents to help their children see beyond others with disabilities.

There are also organised school camps/retreats where able-bodied and disabled children get together to learn and play together. Children can be very accepting of others and it is often our (adults’) attitude towards people with disabilities that may indirectly breed social stigma. Our community volunteers would sometimes bring their grandchildren to the DAC and they will also interact with our people with disabilities here.

Interview with Mdm Nuraini Bte Mohd Noor, caregiver

Has the centre provided you relief from the daily demands of being a caregiver? If yes, how so?

Mdm Nuraini: My son Fahmi goes to the DAC from Monday to Friday on a full-day basis. As I can leave his care to the expert hands at the centre, I get more time to do my own personal and household errands. I am able to meet family and relatives, and to attend to my three other children.

What are your thoughts about the new services and activities the DAC offers for people with disabilities?

Mdm Nuraini: I was initially pleasantly surprised by the advanced high-tech equipment offered at the DAC. I also appreciate the diversity of the therapies. There are recreational therapies like arts and crafts, baking therapy and more, and I really admire how the aides have the patience to let people with disabilities try their hand at these fun therapies.

Fahmi really enjoys the therapies with touch components such as gardening. He likes to feel sand and liquid. He also likes when the aides take him outside because he can see blue skies and greenery – it makes him happy and puts him in a good mood.

Have you noticed any differences about your loved one since he visited the centre?

Mdm Nuraini: Fahmi used to live in his own world and he would not come out of his room. He used to be afraid when relatives and friends would come to our house. Previously, he would also let go of his cup immediately after finishing his drink. Now, he will hold the cup and wait for us to collect instead of letting the cup go. He is also able to sit with us in the living room for longer periods of time to watch TV, and he is no longer afraid of being around others.

What support does the centre provide you as a caregiver?

Mdm Nuraini: It gives me the peace of mind that my son is well taken care of – I get prompt and constant updates when Fahmi is not feeling well. Additionally, the DAC’s social worker has also given me huge support, not just limited to Fahmi and his well-being. The social worker knows all about my family, so she offers support and advice for our entire family, which we really appreciate.

The Singapore Red Cross’ Day Activity Centre is located at Jurong West Street 52, #01-497 Block 536, Singapore 640536. Call 6262 4062 or visit redcross.sg/dac for more information.

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