It was a health screening with a difference. 240 students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) were out en force to conduct a series of health checks for elderly residents living in the Chinatown area. The students participating were from the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS), the Pharmacy department at the Faculty of Science (FoS) and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM), and the tests included checks on blood pressure, visual acuity, blood glucose and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. Over three weekends, between 9am to 3pm, they had offered their services to 338 elderly residents.
The screenings, titled Project SilverCare 2011/2012, are the brainchild of Fourth Year ALCNS student Betsy Seah. This is her Honours Year project, which she took out of the classroom and into the community. Her project had started out as an exercise to collect and assess health information from the elderly community in Chinatown, but grew to a full-fledged health screening exercise.
Betsy, a recipient of the Fok Chu On Family Bursary in her first three years at ALCNS, feels an urgent need to reach out and help others. She says, “Having been a bursary recipient, I am ever-grateful to the donors who enabled me to get a university education. I have always wanted to be involved in community service, and I want to be actively involved and help those who need it most in our society.”
The screenings were conducted in partnership with the Yong-En Care Centre, which seeks to enhance the well-being and welfare of the less fortunate in the Chinatown community. The sessions were held over three weekends and were open to elderly aged 55 and above registered under the Care Centre and members of the public.
Betsy’s determination and collaborative nature was a key reason for the success of this project, as staff from the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Eye Clinic, physiotherapists from the Singapore Physiotherapy Association and doctors came on board to help with the screenings. But Betsy is keen to emphasise teamwork. She says, “Someone once said that nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. No matter how small the something is. As long as it made a difference to that someone, it is something.”
Elaborating on this, Betsy says, “As a nursing student, I thought it would be a good idea for students from the different healthcare disciplines in NUS to come together and put our skills learned in classrooms, labs and clinical settings to good use. It was a challenge at first, but being able to help so many people has been enormously rewarding for all of us involved in the screenings.”