Taking care of seniors at daycare

As most of the seniors speak Chinese dialects, Ms Siti Liyana has picked up simple phrases to better communicate with them.
As most of the seniors speak Chinese dialects, Ms Siti Liyana has picked up simple phrases to better communicate with them.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

When she was a nursing student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Ms Siti Liyana did an internship at a hospital.

But after graduation, she chose to work in a senior care centre instead.

"It was more of shift work in hospital. But at daycare, it is closer to office hours," said the 26-year-old, who joined daycare centre operator, NTUC Health Silver Circle, last year. "This way, I can spend more time with my family."

A typical day for the centre supervisor involves reporting to the centre at 7.30am, just as the seniors are arriving. Breakfast is served, followed by the morning's activities.

In the afternoon, Ms Siti and her colleagues help the seniors who want a nap to their recliners, before catching up on paperwork.

By 4.30pm, transport will start arriving to ferry most of the seniors back to their homes.

While this sounds like a peaceful life, the job has its challenges.

 
 

Seniors are not allowed outside of the centre for safety reasons. However, Ms Siti recalled that a woman with dementia once followed her out of the door when it was opened for another person to leave. Ms Siti had to ask the woman firmly to go back into the centre.

"The woman was very upset. But my manager told me it's not about reasoning with them but accommodating their feelings," she said.

What she would now do, if it happens again, is to allow the woman to see for herself that her transport has not arrived. Pacified, the woman would be more willing to go indoors and wait.

Many of the seniors speak Chinese dialects, so Ms Siti has picked up simple phrases to better communicate with them.

This is important as some have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Ms Siti also needs to know about the social needs of the seniors.

"We need to know who cares for them, so that we can better help and support them," she said.

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Taking care of seniors at daycare'. Print Edition | Subscribe