Project GroomOver, one of six current community outreach programmes organised by the Singapore General Hospital’s Volunteer Club, has provided over ten years of services to the elderly and the needy. Since the launch of the project, Singapore General Hospital Volunteer Club has collaborated with other local healthcare institutions, such as the National Heart Centre, ISS Faculty Services, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Duke-NUS Medical School and SingHealth polyclinics, expanding their partnership over the years and allowing the project to grow.

Spring cleaning the homes of the needy

The inception of the project in 2006 saw some 200 volunteers from the hospital staff roster assist in spring cleaning the homes of those in need during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The recipients of the assistance are from the Care Outreach Group (COPE), who was selected by social workers. In 2014, the programme also included free health check-ups for the residents provided by 25 SingHealth group doctors. They assisted up to 26 residents with medication reconciliation as well. This part of the programme was christened Project Hope, and is intended to be a platform for the Singapore General Hospital to help its patients outside the hospital as well.

Elderly and sick residents the main recipients of the service

Volunteers of Project GroomOver do tasks which might be difficult for many of the elderly and sick residents. These include helping the homeowner to de-clutter, cleaning floors and windows, and even painting walls which might have last seen a coat of paint a decade or two ago.

Since many of the residents who are the recipients of the volunteer programme live by themselves, with the help of volunteers from Project GroomOver, they can get their homes spruced up for the year especially when local festivals are just around the corner. The spring cleaning also serves an more important purpose of ensuring that the elderly residents are living in hygienic and safe surroundings.

Largest number of volunteers in its tenth year

In 2016, the annual programme saw a surge in volunteer numbers. More than 800 volunteers from the SingHealth group, which includes public hospitals here, took part in Project GroomOver and Project Hope. Many of the volunteers were doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists as well as allied health professionals and hospital administration staff. The programme was launched on July 16, and it involved the cleaning up of 110 residential homes belonging to the elderly, as well as gifting the elderly with daily necessities amounting to more than $70.

Volunteering a rising trend in Singapore

The Singapore General Hospital Club has also seen growth in its membership from 200 volunteers in the club to 2,500 now. The number of volunteers in Singapore overall has seen a rise, from one in 10 in 2000 to one in five in 2014. More efforts have also being undertaken to encourage regular volunteering.

Being a volunteer not only helps those who are in need, but it also benefits the volunteer themselves as they can learn about teamwork and cooperating with others, a vital quality in healthcare teams. The spirit of volunteerism is one that should be encouraged, and healthcare professionals can look to join such efforts and help to create a more heart-warming society. MIMS

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