What it is
Brahm Centre started its Virtual Hospital (VH) Program in early 2013, with a goal to provide care through home visits to discharged patients who had been repeatedly admitted to hospitals. The VH Program has since evolved into what is the Befriending Program today, where we continue to offer support not only to discharged elderly stroke patients and those with mental health conditions, but also to their caregivers.
Brahm Centre’s Befriending 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, Institute of Mental Health, Changi General Hospital, 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.
How it’s run
After referrals are received from professional bodies and case assessments are made, our Care Team, consisting of physiotherapists, nursing personnel and care coordinators, work together with hospital clinicians to provide training and holistic support to our volunteer befrienders, who will then be matched with the patients.
Volunteer Befrienders and what they do
Anyone with a heart of service can be a volunteer befriender at Brahm Centre. Volunteer befrienders undergo a series of training 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 commit 1-2 hours of their time each week to visiting patients and their caregivers in their homes. Our volunteers provide compassionate companionship and emotional support to their befriendees during home visits. To promote patients’ active and healthy living, volunteers also work to provide various assistance and encourage mobility.
Our Befrienders, Katherine and Weena, and Mdm Chong
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!
Join our team of volunteer befrienders in this meaningful and rewarding program!
To get involved, fill in and submit the volunteer form now.
Have more questions about volunteering? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
make an enquiry
Novena: 6258 0831
Simei: 6786 0800