Lions Home for The Elders Launches 40th Anniversary Commemorative Book
40 Years of Providing Care for Singapore’s Elders Celebrated
(Singapore - May 7, 2020) The nature of a society can be judged by how it treats and respects its elders. In Singapore, the Lions Home for the Elders sets a very high bar as they carry out a mission to not simply provide for the physical needs of the elderly but to help them enjoy a vibrant life. In 2020 the Lions Home celebrated 40 years of ‘Transforming Lives’. Part of this celebration was to create a book that told the story of the Lions Home, the residents, its staff, its volunteers and those who have donated time and money.
The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the creation of the book but after the Circuit Breaker ended the Book Committee team was able to slowly finish its work. As the book launch and recognition ceremony took place at the Marina Bay Sands Hybrid Broadcast Studio Mr Paul Town, Senior Vice President, Resort Operations, (pictured below seated next to the podium) welcomed the inhouse guests as well as those watching the broadcast in several countries around the world. Mr Town mentioned that in 2028 20,000 Lions would be holding a convention at MBS.
The MC, Rachel Kelly, (pictured at the podium) introduced Ms Genevieve Chua (pictured below seated) the CEO of paper distributor OVOL Singapore, and she is a volunteer with RSVP, The Organisation of Senior Volunteers established in 1998. Ms Chua, RSVP’s First Vice Chair, also leads a group of volunteers in a dementia prevention programme.
“It’s great to be able to hold this very special book in my hands,” Ms Chua stated. “Being someone who’s been so closely connected with paper for a long time – 31 years in the paper industry – I truly appreciate the value of a printed book. Not only do the contents make it special the book its self was produced on responsibly sourced PEFC certified paper. Sustainability is very important to us."
“All credit to the Lions Home for embarking on this very ambitious 40th anniversary commemorative book project and for completing it in good time, when you’ve had to endure all the constraints and difficulties associated with the pandemic particularly being in the very vulnerable senior care home sector.”
Ms Chua continued, “Singapore has an ageing population. It is estimated that by 2030, 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be over 65 years and this will rise to almost one in two by 2050. Coupled with a declining birth rate and increased life expectancy, we have the unique challenge of reduced economic growth, increased healthcare and social service costs. At the same time, we will have this pool of 900,000 seniors by 2030 who, apart from those who need help, there are many who can still contribute to society. As an example, RSVP's 2,500 volunteers about 70% of whom are mainly in their 60s and 70s, serve about 120,000 beneficiaries annually in various Befriending, Mentoring, Guiding and Training activities. We provide the seniors with opportunities to serve in many different areas and capacities - our seniors even learn and teach other seniors how to do coding and fly drones!”
A video presentation by Lions Clubs International President Dr Jung-Yui Choi on the theme of volunteerism was continued in a passionate speech by Chairman of Lions Home PCC Lion Henre WH Tan, PBM (pictured centre in the top picture). Mr Tan dedicated the 40th Anniversary commemorative book to all those who have over the years – and through these currently challenging times – contributed so much in time and energy, skills, funds, gifts in kind and support in everyway possible to produce such a remarkable Institute of Public Character, providing long term care for precious elders in Singapore.
“Readers of the book,” Mr Tan added, “will gain glimpses of the driving factors that promoted Lions to embark onto the four-decade long journey and the efforts to set up purpose-built facilities along with the dedication and commitment of the all-volunteer Management Board over the years.”
Mr Ken Hickson, (pictured below at the podium) CEO of SASA and author of seven non-fiction books, was hired to write and produce the book which he insisted be printed on PEFC certified paper. Mr Hickson explained that most of the interviews were completed before the lockdown happened. From that time he was unable to visit the Lions Homes. “It is important to me, when doing such a book, that we tell the stories of the people.”
This approach can be seen in the newly minted book that gives recognition of the Lions Home’s first Chairman and the instigator of the project Mr Henry Kwek. It is noted in the book: The biggest challenge for the first Chairman was rallying support from a skeptical public and the Lions. It was his hard work in getting government approval for building and construction, raising funds and providing direction for the construction of the community shelter home at the void deck of Block 403 Ang Mo Ko Avenue 10 that made the Lions Home happen.
“The Lions Home book is all about the role played by people: past, present and future,” Mr Hickson stated. While he talked about well-known people such as singer Cliff Richard who visited the Lions Toa Payoh Home in 1994 and author Margaret Heffernan and her book Uncharted perhaps his most moving story was about one of the residents, Ms Elizabeth Kee, whom he interviewed on her 80th birthday. “Later I came across her by chance,” Mr Hickson related “attending the musical “Cats” at MBS. Confined to a wheelchair she had travelled on the MRT from Bishan to MBS, with the aid of her volunteer helper, to take in the performance. Being ‘confined’ to anywhere was not her approach to life.”
Lions Home CEO, Ms Doreen Lye, in response to a question during the Media Q&A session, spoke about how the Lions Home had, with the support and direction of the Singapore government, transformed its approach from one of simply providing food and shelter to a facility of highly trained and capable people offering a comprehensive range of services and programmes. “There is a full scope of aged care services, caregiver and family support, and more. All our residents can expect to receive a person-centred, holistic and integrated care services that enable and enrich their quality of life.”
Ms Lye continued, “Established by the Lions Clubs of Singapore, our first community home was founded 40 years ago and housed 18 destitute and elderly residents. In the course of time, services, capabilities and capacities have been expanded to include a holistic approach in aged care, and we are pleased to share that the Home has grown to become one of Singapore's leading eldercare service providers in the community.”
Today, Lions Home operates two fully equipped nursing homes at Bishan and Bedok South, with capacity to house 384 residents. The team comprises 250 highly qualified and attentive staff including nurses, care staff, as well as support services staff handling social welfare, administration, operations and finance functions. The Lions Homes also engage doctors and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists to provide specialised medical attention.
“We look at our residents as individuals not as a cohort or a group of elderly,” Ms Lye stated. They are all individuals, they all have different personalities and interests.”
Looking to the future, the CEO sees the Home as further taking advantage of IT and digital developments. “Just as our government is endeavoring to create a Smart Nation, we are creating the Smart Ward. The future of nursing infrastructure is to apply all the digital technics available to aid in the comfort, the physical and mental development of our residents while still having the human touch.”
While the Lions Home For The Elders celebrates 40 years of growth and development it looks forward to a future of providing high quality individual care for those in need in a world that is improving the way it cares for people through new ideas and new technology.
Following the launch of the book the Lions recognized its supporters and healthcare staff. The Distinction Award is given to the group of supporters who have provided their unwavering assistance to Lions Home.
The HK Lau Award is a prestigious award named after the late PCC Lion HK Lau, whose key contributions include serving elderly residents by meeting their increasing needs through the provision of better nursing facilities. He also served as Lions Home Chairman.
To affirm the commitment and patience of staff who have dedicated their time and service at Lions Home over many years, a special award was presented to the frontline nursing care staff who consistently provide a continuum of quality care and support for the residents.
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