Article by courtesy of SPH – The Straits Times
2 Dec 2006, The Straits Times (CHARITY AT HOME)


Rehab offered to stroke patients to help them regain some independence

MADAM Quek Gek Choo was looking forward to leisure, relaxation and, above all,travel when she retired from her clerical job.

But she had to put these plans on hold after a stroke left her paralysed on her left side just three months into her retirement.

Unable to walk unaided, the 59-year-old was ready to give up venturing out of the house on her own, let alone travelling overseas.

Said Madam Quek: “I felt very gek sim (heartbroken in Hokkien). Being retired means you can enjoy, but this sickness took that away.”

For two years, she resigned herself to the fate of never being able to go places – until she joined the Concern & Care Society (CCS) early this year.

Twice weekly, she has been going to its centre in Bukit Batok for two-hour exercise sessions, which have helped her regain some movement in her left hand.

The routine includes stretching, lifting and exercises to promote hand-eye coordination. She has been practising at home as well, with the help of her maid.

She is happy to show proof of her progress, stretching her fingers gingerly and raising her left arm to almost shoulder height. She could do neither 10 months ago.

Since 2001, the non-profit CCS has run a slew of activities for the elderly. Its only centre in Bukit Batok sees more than 700 users weekly.

Music features prominently among the activities for seniors in its Music Academy programme, which offers them classes in music, song and dance.

The accent is also on music in its Body and Mind Renewal Exercise programme,where stroke and Parkinson’s patients use music and simple props in their rehabilitation.

Music makes the exercises more enjoyable, said Madam Quek, whose favourite tune is by a 1950s singer, Zhuang Xuefang. On Fridays, CCS members make home visits to fellow senior citizens around Bukit Batok.

They also work with the young, by tying up with schools like Nanyang Girls’High to organise activities for the elderly.

CCS president Margaret Wee said with a rapidly ageing society, Singapore’s young need opportunities to help care for old folk.

For Madam Quek, CCS has not only helped her regain mobility, but also given her hope.

Her cousin's wife May Sng testified to a noticeable change, saying Madam Quek seemed happier now.

The retiree is so grateful, she plans to “give back” to the centre by volunteering there one day. She reckons she will have recovered more fully by June next year.

First, she will need to undergo the training offered by the centre, so she can teach other stroke patients the same exercises that have benefited her.

She still totters unsteadily, but is already eyeing a trip to Hong Kong which CCS is organising.

She said, with an excited glimmer in her eyes: “I've never been to Hong Kong. Now's my chance.”

Photo Caption
REHABILITATION: Madam Quak Gah Im, 84, does arm exercises with the help of her maid. The Concern & Care Society in Bukit Batok aims to help the elderly as well as the young understand that age and disease should not be a hindrance to leading a full, active life. (Photo by Caroline Chia)

Name : Concern & Care Society
What it does/Who it helps : Reaches out to the poor and lonely elderly withrehabilitative programmes and activities.
Money it needs each year : $510,000
How it raises funds : Partially funded by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. Also receives money from corporations and individuals.
Premises : Block 228, Bukit Batok Central, #01-45
How much in the kitty ? $50,000
How many staff members ? 4
How many volunteers ? 150
Is it online ? Yes, at
Are its financial records online ? Yes
Why you should donate : Because age and disease should not be a hindrance to leading a full, active lifestyle, said Mrs Teo Jiok Lin, its centre manager


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