Senior Programme Executive, Methodist Welfare Services (Wesley Seniors Activity Centre)
When the Wesley Seniors Activity Centre – a community outreach partnership between Methodist Welfare Services and Wesley Methodist Church – was established in 2010, the elderly living around the area were mostly not acquainted among themselves.
A few years later, the Person-Centred Approach Communities of Practice (PCA CoP) toolkit was launched, with the staff adopting a PCA philosophy of care. Subsequently, the elders were able to develop more positive relationships with each other, with a discernible shift in their outlook and transforming into an empowered bunch of seniors. The PCA CoP was formed in February 2013 by SSI and comprises 14 practitioners from various social service agencies in the eldercare sector. The aim is to impart, teach and educate organisations and individuals to deliver and provide services and programmes that consider the needs for the elderly in a respectful manner. The toolkit that had such an impact at the Methodist Welfare Services (Wesley Seniors Activity Centre) was the result of the initiative, and is definitely valuable as a guideline to implement holistic services and programmes for the seniors. As a senior programme executive, Mr Willy Ho has his hands full with the elderly who come to the drop-in centre. In the mornings, the seniors attend an exercise programme, after which they proceed to morning tea. Mr Ho makes use of this opportunity to interact with them, whether listening or guiding them in resolving any issues. The centre also conducts a variety of activities to keep them engaged both in mind and motor skills, such as drama classes, iPad sessions, calligraphy lessons and outings to places of interest. In addition, the centre initiated a soup programme to address the issue of nutritional deficiency, because the elderly tend to neglect the importance of a nutritional diet.
|“I would say my best attribute is my pair of listening ears. Through active listening, I get to truly understand them, their lives and dreams, and that is how we build the relationship and rapport.”
Along the way, there definitely were situations with difficult clients. In those situations, Mr Ho tapped on his listening ear to provide the diplomatic edge to cool them down, and later explained the rationale behind his actions, thus successfully managing their challenging behaviours. Thankfully, there are also volunteers helping out at the centre, for instance students from Hwa Chong High School and the NUS College of Alice & Peter Tan. One of the biggest misconceptions Mr Ho heard from the students is that they feel that the elderly are unable to do a lot of things. But after volunteering at the centre, they are pleasantly surprised that the elderly are more able, nimble and active than they thought.
Unknown to many friends and colleagues, Mr Ho’s childhood aspiration was to manage a fun fair. This was due to the joyous times he spent at many fun fairs when he was young, playing the games at the various stalls, and winning little prize tokens. His dream was somewhat realised by the weekly bingo game at the centre, allowing him also to partake in the joy of the seniors. Like the other ambassadors featured here, Mr Ho is also a successful personification of a fruitful mid career change. He was previously in the commercial sector for many years, before moving on to the government sector, and finally settling down in the social service sector where he is now happily working with the elderly and the community, putting to good use his inherent talent of active listening.