SINGAPORE - A trishaw ride at a nearby park on Thursday morning (May 5) is nursing home resident Lim Pek Tiong's first outdoor trip in 11/2 years.
The 66-year-old from St Luke's ElderCare Residence @ Ang Mo Kio, who uses a wheelchair, said of the outing at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park: "I'm happy to be going out again."
He was one of three seniors from the home who were given rides by volunteers from Cycling Without Age on Thursday as the charity restarts rides for nursing home residents following the recent easing of safe management measures.
Residents from St Luke's ElderCare Residence and Sree Narayana Mission in Yishun will be the first to get to go on rides every week in the neighbourhood.
Sree Narayana Mission was one of four nursing homes that started these rides in November last year, but it stopped them in January this year due to the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions.
Last year, in-person visits to nursing homes were suspended as Covid-19 clusters formed in nursing homes.
With the group size cap lifted, volunteering activities can also resume at nursing homes.
The trishaw ride scheme was started by the charity in 2017 as a way for seniors to spend time in the community.
Ms Cecilia Llego, a senior physiotherapist at St Luke's ElderCare Residence, said the seniors were excited to chat with the nursing home staff and cyclist volunteers, and point out familiar landmarks around the park.
"It stimulates their minds and is good reminiscence therapy for the seniors," she said.
"When our nursing home opened during the circuit breaker (in May 2020), it was really a challenge for us, with people locked in struggling to come out. They would bang the doors and even break the locks," she said, adding that many residents did not understand why they could not go out.
St Luke's ElderCare Residence cares for seniors above 50 who are medically stable but have undergone post-operative procedures for strokes, fractures or falls.
They may also have chronic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, or are wheelchair users and require assistance with daily activities.
"Bringing them out really integrates them back into the community, because in the nursing home we only see the walls and the doors," said Ms Llego.
Cycling Without Age is working with Ren Ci @ Ang Mo Kio, MWS Nursing Home in Yew Tee and Jamiyah Nursing Home in West Coast to safely resume the trishaw rides for their residents too.
The charity works with seven nursing homes and senior care centres, as well as two community locations - Gardens by the Bay and Jurong Lake Gardens.
The trishaw rides are free for its beneficiaries, seniors and those with limited mobility.
Mr Gary Gan, 70, one of two volunteers giving rides at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, said he wanted to give back to society after he retired from his finance and banking job in 2013.
"I enjoy befriending the seniors and introducing them to the place, where they can see otters, fish, community garden, fruits, birds, or even actors when Mediacorp is filming shows."