Kopitiam kakis for nursing home folk

President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Nearly every week, retiree Doris Han whips up a special tea-time treat for about 50 elderly nursing home residents from Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, many of whom miss home-cooked food.

She makes them dishes such as kway chap, fried bee hoon, char kway teow and lontong.

The 67-year-old and her husband, Mr Christopher Lok, also 67, are among about 50 senior volunteers, or "kopitiam kakis", who spend Tuesday afternoons singing karaoke and chatting with the elderly residents.

"It's a joy to do volunteer work, and it's motivation for us to keep fit and active so we have energy to help out," said Madam Han.


President Tony Tan Keng Yam visiting the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital during a session of Kopitiam Diaries, an initiative to care for the elderly.  PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO 

The initiative to care for the elderly - called Kopitiam Diaries - began in 2000. Sessions are held at Kallang Community Club while the hospital in Serangoon Road is redeveloped into Singapore's largest nursing home.

The programme receives funding from the Silver Volunteer Fund, which President Tony Tan Keng Yam introduced in 2015 under the President's Challenge to encourage seniors to volunteer. Dr Tan attended a session yesterday and met the residents and volunteers.

He hopes more organisations will step up to offer opportunities for seniors to volunteer and help other seniors.

"If we all work together... we will be able to continue our progress to make Singapore a more inclusive and caring society where everybody has a place, no matter your age and capabilities," he said.

Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital plans to double its pool of volunteers, as its capacity will double in October after the redevelopment is over.

Out of all the Kopitiam Diaries activities, karaoke is a favourite of Madam Han Mei Hua, 85, who has been staying at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for six years since she was injured in a fall at home.

"If there are no activities, I will just sit and read newspapers. I don't sing very well but I like to listen to others sing," she said.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Kopitiam kakis for nursing home folk'. Print Edition | Subscribe