More centres for post-stroke care as population ages

The Enabling Village in Bukit Merah, an inclusive community space that brings together people of different abilities. PHOTO: SG ENABLE

SINGAPORE - A fall after his second stroke in 2016 left Mr Eric Erh, 71, wheelchair-bound for eight months.

But after undergoing a two-month physiotherapist-led fitness programme at the Stroke Support Station's (S3) Wellness Centre at the Enabling Village located in Bukit Merah, he was able to walk without a mobility aid.

"Stroke has no borders, and it can come anytime to anybody. Programmes like these are important - if I didn't go to S3, my recovery would have been a lot more difficult," said the retiree.

The charity organisation will be expanding its services across the island to provide more support for stroke survivors and their caregivers, it announced at a charity dinner on Friday (May 18).

Speaking at the event at Shangri-La Hotel, President Halimah Yacob noted that Singapore sees about 8,000 cases of stroke a year, and as the population ages, the number is likely to increase.

As a result of public education campaigns that have increased awareness of stroke symptoms, which include facial drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulties, there has been an increase in the number of patients heading to the hospital early enough for time-sensitive stroke treatments, she said.

"I am also glad that S3 plans to expand and increase the number of wellness centres across Singapore, to spread affordable and accessible services to more residents in the heartlands," said Madam Halimah.

S3, a volunteer-led organisation, was set up in 2016 and relies on donations to subsidise their programmes, which are supported by medical professionals and therapists from the National University Healthcare System as well as other hospitals.

The existing Wellness Centre at Enabling Village, opened in 2016, offers post-stroke recovery programmes that have proven effective in helping survivors improve their mobility and fitness, the charity said in a release, citing a report by the National University Hospital.

A second centre targeted to reach 1,000 stroke survivors and 600 caregivers a year will be opened in the West in 2019, while three more will be built in the North, East and Central areas by 2022 if fundraising goals of about $2 million are met.

There are also plans for six Wellness Stations, which provide survivors and caregivers with information and counselling, to be rolled out across various hospitals by 2020. This is in addition to two existing ones at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and NUH Ward@Senja.

S3 chairman Teo Poh Yim said that there is a gap in the post-stroke continuum of care following discharge from hospital, which the organisation aims to fill.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat said: "Partners like S3, working closely with our hospitals and healthcare institutions, allow us to be able to bring care beyond hospitals and into the community."

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