SingHealth volunteers spruce up 110 homes for charity

Volunteers moving furniture and trash out of an elderly resident's room to facilitate cleaning. They were part of this year's Project GroomOver, an annual charity drive organised by SGH.
Volunteers moving furniture and trash out of an elderly resident's room to facilitate cleaning. They were part of this year's Project GroomOver, an annual charity drive organised by SGH.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

As a nurse in a hospital's burns ward, Madam Winnie Ong's job is to clean and dress wounds.

But once a year for the past seven years, she has rolled up her sleeves to clean dirt and grime from the homes of the elderly instead.

Yesterday, she was one of 850 volunteers who helped to spruce up 110 homes in the Henderson, Bukit Merah, Lengkok Bahru and Banda Street areas.

This was a record turnout for the annual Project GroomOver, organised by the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), which started in 2010 with just 100 volunteers cleaning 10 homes.

The volunteers were all from SingHealth Group institutions on the SGH campus, including Duke-NUS Medical School, and SingHealth Polyclinics and KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

In groups of seven to 10, the volunteers - including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists - removed clutter, scrubbed floors, cleaned windows and painted walls. The elderly residents, most of who live alone, were also given daily necessities worth more than $70.

"Some of them actually smile when they see how clean their homes are," said Madam Ong, 56, a principal enrolled nurse at SGH. "I also learn about teamwork, cooperation and compassion through this project."

Madam Mumtaj Ibrahim, 45, SGH senior community relations manager and organiser of the project, said the idea was to "go beyond the hospital walls" to help the community.

"A lot of our patients come from the central region. We wanted to ensure that their houses are clean and safe when they leave the hospital," she said.

Madam Chen Nyat Yin, 86, a retired domestic helper, was all smiles as a team of doctors mopped her floor and repainted her one-room flat in Chin Swee Road.

"I'm too old to clean, and I get back pain after a while," she said in a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese. "Of course, I'm very happy they're doing this for me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'SingHealth volunteers spruce up 110 homes for charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe