Activity centres help seniors stay active: Ong Ye Kung

Residents enjoying themselves at the newly opened Pacific Activity Centre in Yishun Street Activity 31, which provides comprehensive and holistic care for the elderly.
Residents enjoying themselves at the newly opened Pacific Activity Centre in Yishun Street Activity 31, which provides comprehensive and holistic care for the elderly.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Madam Lee Quek Eng, a 70-year-old grandmother, has never done a watercolour painting or taken any art lessons before. But yesterday, her watercolour painting of a landscape scenery was proudly displayed at the Pacific Activity Centre in Yishun Street 31.

The painting was done under the watchful eyes of her art teacher Ekaterina Fasolko, a 24-year-old Singapore-based Russian engineer who volunteers at the centre.

The art lessons were among the activities organised by the centre at the void deck of Block 333B.

The centre organises daily activities for residents like Madam Lee, who live at the Housing Board studio flats in the neighbourhood.

The constituency's MP Ong Ye Kung visited the centre yesterday.

These activity centres help seniors stay active as they age, he said.

"They bring activities to the ground," said Mr Ong, who is also Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills).

The centres provide the "last mile" of services to the seniors by bringing services to seniors right at the doorstep of where they live, he added.

Besides the centre in Yishun that Mr Ong visited yesterday, Pacific Activity Centre runs 10 other centres in constituencies such as Punggol, Tampines and Tiong Bahru where there are clusters of HDB studio flats.

The network of centres for seniors is part of the Pacific Healthcare Holdings, which is well known for its nursing homes.

The founder of the network, Dr William Chong, said the centres have expanded their range of activities to cater to the seniors.

"Besides the regular exercise, mahjong and karaoke sessions, we have included yoga, art therapy and dance classes," he noted.

While these activities draw some interests, some of the seniors said it was the company of other seniors that draw them to the centre.

Madam Tan Yin Keow, 94, is one of the oldest seniors who visit the centre daily. "I live alone, so I come here every day just to be with friends," said the grandmother in Teochew.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2018, with the headline 'Activity centres help seniors stay active: Ong Ye Kung'. Print Edition | Subscribe