Singapore ‘Wheelchair Brigade’ ropes in seniors

March 20, 2019

Wheelchairs are a key mobility device for frail seniors, who regularly need some help with their wheelchairs – sometimes dirt and hair is trapped in the wheel with regular use, or the tyres deflate, or the nuts and bolts loosen, or the wheelchair just doesn’t move well.

Hence, a pilot programme that enables active seniors to fix wheelchairs in the community, with funding from the Temasek foundation, has been started up, according to Woon Saet Nyoon, CEO of Temasek Foundation Cares in Singapore. The WHEELS programme is administered by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Singapore which allows seniors with this newly-acquired skill to help other needy seniors.

The three-year pilot programme was launched in 2017 at five Senior Activity Centres (SACs) in Bedok and Tampines. Prior to the launch, younger community volunteers had already been servicing wheelchairs for elderly beneficiaries, but the programme has been expanded to include active and able seniors, who would otherwise engage in idle chit-chat or play games.

A structured training programme includes six hours of theory lessons and supervised practical sessions over topics like understanding the wheelchair components, maintenance, inspection and safety evaluation. The seniors then return from the training centre to the SACs where their services are readily accessible as needed. So far, 35 wheelchair technicians have been trained, and the foundation hopes that at least 600 frail seniors can benefit from the scheme.

At the Sunlove-Kampong Chai Chee SAC, 72-year-old Mohd Ali takes about 30 minutes for basic wheelchair servicing – it is easy, and he is never shy to help others.

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Category: Community, Features

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