Postman delivers letters - and care

Postman Seah Seow Peng looks in on sisters Thi Lai Lee (left) and Teh Lai Wam at least once a week. Both elderly women have dementia.
Postman Seah Seow Peng looks in on sisters Thi Lai Lee (left) and Teh Lai Wam at least once a week. Both elderly women have dementia.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SingPost launches eldercare initiative after year-long pilot in Ang Mo Kio and Henderson

Sitting on a sofa in an Ang Mo Kio flat, Madam Seah Seow Peng holds the frail hands of elderly sisters Thi Lai Lee, 84, and Teh Lai Wam, 83, as she asks them if they have eaten.

She also takes note of the mental and physical well-being of the sisters, who are suffering from dementia.

Madam Seah, however, is not a relative nor a social worker, but a postman.

"I come here and check in on them once a week at least because they are lonely," she said. "We are not family but we met by fate. There is this connection between us."

The 57-year-old is one of seven postmen who volunteered for a pilot programme to check in on the vulnerable elderly in Ang Mo Kio and Henderson while making their delivery rounds.

After the year-long pilot programme, Singapore Post officially launched its Postman Home Visits nationwide on Thursday.

The initiative will be extended to Yishun and Jurong next month and will be progressively rolled out to all districts across Singapore.

  • 7

    Number of postmen who volunteered for a pilot programme to check in on the vulnerable elderly in Ang Mo Kio and Henderson while making their delivery rounds.

During the year-long pilot scheme, the seven postmen visited 11 seniors at least once a week.

SingPost worked with social service agencies such as AMKFSC Community Services and social enterprise NTUC Health Silver Ace to identify vulnerable seniors in the areas where the postmen make their deliveries.

The postmen then visited the elderly beneficiaries at their homes and checked on their general well-being. Training was also provided.

During their house calls, the postmen made simple observations of the elderly, and filled in a checklist for the social service agency servicing the area.

This gave the agency a sense of the seniors' mental and physical well-being.

The checklist also included any requests the seniors might have.

The postmen could contact the social service agency for help should they face an emergency situation.

With flexible visit times and dates, SingPost said, the postmen were able to manage their schedules and maintain delivery standards.

Over time, these postmen built a bond with the seniors.

SingPost chief executive of postal services Woo Keng Leong said: "Postmen have been a ubiquitous part of the community for more than a century.

"The Postman Home Visits initiative is a natural extension of their service to the community, as it offers kind-hearted staff the opportunity to do good during the course of their work."

For Madam Seah, the weekly visits to the two elderly sisters are something she looks forward to.

She said: "I try to visit them a few times each week. We chit-chat and talk about our families. Even though they sometimes forget my name, we have a relationship built."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Postman delivers letters - and care'. Print Edition | Subscribe