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Duke-NUS Medical students Edlyn Tan (26) and Lee Li Wen (24) use their medical knowledge to serve the community by conducting free home care visits to seniors in need. We ask them about their motivations and how these sessions shape their future medical practice.

Medical students who volunteer


 
Edyln Tan, in blue, and Lee Li Wen, in a white coat.


Q. What made you decide to go into volunteering? 


Li Wen (LW): I was already actively volunteering during my secondary school years. I am privileged to be surrounded by mentors who are active volunteers. 


Q. How did these free health screenings came about? 


Edlyn (E): The opportunity came about through Mount Alvernia Hospital and SilverACE Senior Activity Centres. The volunteer programme started in June 2017, and we are now in our sixth session. 


Q. What goes on during these health screening sessions? 


E: Teams of medical students and volunteers from Mount Alvernia and SilverACE make house visits to seniors living in Lengkok Bahru. These seniors are usually homebound, so the visits help the seniors keep track of their health conditions through regular check-ups. 


LW: We break up the work. For each senior, Year Two students like me would be responsible for taking their blood pressure and capillary blood glucose measurement. Based on the results, the senior students would inquire about their medical issues, ​if any, and give them advice such as modifying their diet. They would also educate them on chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 


Q. Did you observe any improvements in the elderly on subsequent visits? 


E: Yes! During our initial visit, we would explain to the seniors the importance of taking their medication on time. During subsequent visits, we noticed that some are more willing to take their medications. They are also making an effort to follow up with their doctors. A few also changed their diet based on our advice. The improvements are gradual but it is a good start. 


Q. How has volunteer work changed your perspective on how you treat your patients in the future? 

LW: I learn to look beyond the medical and social aspects, such as their living conditions, or their understanding of their medical needs. In my future practice, I will take time to understand their living environment and explore their concerns in order to determine the best course of treatment. 


E: Likewise, these house visits allow me to see the seniors’ lives holisticially. We understand their needs better as well. I now see the importance of discussing with my patients about their social and financial situation before prescribing medication in my future career as a doctor.


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MOUNT ALVERNIA COMMUNITY OUTREACH 

This programme reaches out to underserved communities and individuals who do not have easy access to regular healthcare services. It aims to educate the community on general healthcare and to assist with referrals for services if needed. To find out more, call +65 6347 6650 or email: outreach@mtalvernia.sg​ 


SENIOR ACTIVITY CENTRES (SAC)

These drop-in centres cater to seniors staying in rental housing in the neighbourhood. The SACs provide an opportunity for the seniors staying nearby to interact with their peers and provide mutual support to each other. The centres bring events such as health talks, health checks and activities to these seniors. To learn more about Community Care services for seniors and caregivers, click here​


Click the image to download our issue in PDF.

Don't leave yet! There are more stories in this issue!


1. Meals to Seniors' Doorsteps​

2. Building Community Networks for Seniors​​

3. Bringing Generations Closer Through Volunteerism



You can also read our other NEXTSTEP issues here.


To subscribe to NEXTSTEP, write to us at nextstep@aic.sg​ 


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Treating Seniors with Passion and Compassion