befriending program

Background

Brahm Centre’s Befriending Program offers care and support to lonely elderly, Persons Living with Dementia and caregivers. The program has grown over the years to meet the increase in demand for community home care, and our hospital and community partners have now extended to include Tan Tock Seng Hospital; Khoo Teck Puat Hospital; Ren Ci Community Hospital; Changi General Hospital; Institute of Mental Health; Agency for Integrated Care; The Council for 3rd Age; Kembangan Chai Chee Seniors Activity Centre; Thye Hua Guan MacPherson Seniors Activity Centre; Kolam Ayer Community Club; and various social service centres, to name a few.

 

What services do we provide?

After referrals are received from healthcare institutions or our partners and case assessments are made, Brahm Centre’s Care Team matches clients to trained Brahm Centre volunteers, who engage the former with the goal of providing compassionate befriending.

Our volunteers engage befriendees on a weekly basis, and some of the services provided include:

  • chatting with befriendees or simply lending them a listening ear
  • engaging in activities stimulating for the mind, which could include playing games
  • promoting healthy living and physical mobility through simple activities and/or encouragement

Depending on the situation at hand, our volunteers support caregivers by providing emotional support, caregiver education and sharing information on supporting persons living with mental health conditions.

 

A heartwarming story: Mdm Chong and our befrienders, Katherine and Weena

1 of 9 (Front row left to right) Mdm Chong’s daughter and Mdm Chong. (Back row left to right) Volunteer Befrienders Katherine and Weena.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
2 of 9 (Left to Right) Katherine, Mdm Chong’s daughter, Mdm Chong, and Weena during a home visit.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
3 of 9 Mdm Chong remembering the rotary dial phone from looking at the picture in the book “My Kueh Lapis”
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
4 of 9 Doing some simple exercises with Mdm Chong.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
5 of 9 Mdm Chong proudly showing her threaded “work”! This game was introduced to Mdm Chong by Weena to encourage her motor skills.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
6 of 9 Weena playing a card game with Mdm Chong to help with her memory.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
7 of 9 Katherine helping Mdm Chong cut her nails.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
8 of 9 Katherine encourages Mdm Chong to leave the flat, even just for a bit, by going outside to look at the neighbour’s plants along the walkway.
2 of 5 Brahm centre’s novena branch entrance
9 of 9 Sharing a meal with Mdm Chong – she always has a good appetite when the befrienders visit.

 

Mdm Chong is a 78 year-old widow living in a 4-room flat with her 2 single sons.

Her memory had deteriorated in the 2-3 years before she was referred to Brahm Centre. Family members noticed that she kept repeating herself, asking the same questions over and over again, or she would forget where she placed her keys. Because Mdm Chong cannot remember the way home, she also does not like to leave the house. She was finally diagnosed with dementia in 2015.

Mdm Chong is home-bound and alone at home most of the time since her sons have to leave for work early in the morning and come home only in the evening. Her only daughter, who has her own family commitments, visits her a few times a week, taking turns to do so with another brother.

In October 2016, our trained Volunteer Befrienders, Katherine and Weena, started making weekly visits to Mdm Chong at her home. On their visits, they would bring food for Mdm Chong and make sure she eats if it’s mealtime, knowing that she may forget otherwise. Mdm Chong’s daughter shares that the befrienders’ weekly visit has helped ease part of her worry and stress as a caregiver, because she now does not need to worry about her mother being alone or without food on days our volunteers visit.

 

I just feel so happy that we can bring Mdm Chong a little joy every week! – Katherine

The befrienders, during their visits, engage Mdm Chong socially by chatting with her in Cantonese. One of Mdm Chong’s favourite activities is looking through a picture book – “My Kueh Lapis” – which features objects and scenes from the past in Singapore. Looking at the pictures of the trishaw, samsui woman or clogs would jog Mdm Chong’s memory, and get her to speak animatedly about her memories of the past, like how sometimes four of them in the family would try to squeeze onto the seat of a trishaw! Mdm Chong would also gladly tell you, “Trishaw is better than car!”

 

This volunteering journey has been very meaningful and enjoyable, and the experience is very unique. I would encourage others to be a befriender. – Weena

Katherine and Weena have introduced games and activities during different visits to help encourage Mdm Chong’s motor skills, refresh her memory, and keep her mentally active.

Over the span of a few months, a warm friendship and trust have developed between the volunteer befrienders and Mdm Chong. Now, Mdm Chong looks forward to the weekly visits, and she would be visibly happy to see Katherine and Weena. When they leave, Mdm Chong would say to them in Cantonese, “Come again when you have time!”

As Katherine and Weena walk away from the carpark, they have to remember to look up and wave, because Mdm Chong would be doing the same, waving goodbye to them from her bedroom window upstairs. See you at the next visit, Mdm Chong!

 

Interested to volunteer?

Anyone with a heart of service can volunteer at Brahm Centre to be a volunteer befriender. Volunteer befrienders undergo a series of training by our Care Team – whose members include healthcare, allied health, and counselling personnel – so that they can be better equipped to help their befriendees and the caregivers in whatever ways necessary, be it something practical, or even psychological, social or emotional. Working in pairs, volunteer befrienders then commit 1-2 hours of their time weekly to engage patients and their caregivers.

Join our team of volunteer befrienders in this meaningful and rewarding program!

To get involved, email info@brahmcentre.com with your resume/Curriculum Vitae to indicate your interest.