An interview with Mr. Soh.
Interviewers: Jeslyn and Michelle
I’ve always wondered what happens in a nursing home.
Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? The concept of a nursing home has been explored in multiple forms of media, and the trope of an unwilling elderly person being forced into one has been used to death in drama serials throughout the years. I wanted to find out if the stereotypes are true, and I asked around to see if there was any way for me to take a tour at one of these homes. With that, I took one of my precious Saturdays to take a trip down to Thye Hua Kwan Nursing Home, one of the more popular nursing homes in Singapore.
I must say, the size of the facility rather aback took me once I got there. In my mind, a nursing home was a small and cramped space, but that was not the sight that greeted me. Instead, picture flower beds, walls painted in warm colours, and loads of greenery. It was all really inviting, which was a pleasant surprise for me. Heading in, I was met with the similarly themed decor, inviting colours and an abundance of plants. Shortly after, I met up with Nureen, one of the workers at the home, who led me up to the fourth floor of the facility. That was where I met 65-year old, Mr Soh.
At first, he cut an unassuming figure, but it was his beaming smile that just made me want to strike up a conversation with him. I naturally wanted to know more about the stories of the people living there, and he seemed like a good start. As we burst into a jovial conversation, I quickly learnt more about him – he has been here for only a little over 3 months, enjoys Channel 8 dramas, small trips to the nearby garden and even partakes in Taekwondo. As I asked him (in my broken Chinese) how he felt about life in the home, he responded, “会帮我走, 喜欢环境,” describing how the community of people there are always ready to support him when he’s walking, and how he particularly enjoys the wide, spacious rooms that allow him space to move around unaided. These wide community spaces allow him to partake in his favourite activities in the company of his friends – the other elderly present.
Of course, it wasn’t always a bed of roses for Mr Soh. He explained that he once resided in a home that lacked the resources he needed for his nursing care. His increased ailments led to growing health concerns, which left him despondent and worn out.
Today, however, he is revitalized, and I’m glad to say that Mr Soh is seldom seen without a smile on his face. From what I heard, this newfound happiness is also reflected in his health, which has taken a turn for the better. I learnt that the nurses here provide him with a varied, nutrient-rich, and well-balanced diet, as well as expert physiotherapy care, which allowed him to be able to walk without assistance, something that he previously thought was unthinkable.
Most of all, the nurses provide a listening ear and companionship, something I thoroughly noted, as I witnessed assistants conversing and joking around with the residents of the home.
As the sun sets over the Home, it was about time for me to return to my own. As I left, the sound of roaring laughter and mah-jong tiles being shuffled left a vivid impression on my mind.
This experience changed my perspective about nursing homes in general, but above all, I was genuinely happy to see that the patients, such as Mr Soh, were taken care of so well. As I took the bus home, I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I recalled a joke Mr Soh told me earlier, and I was reminded that, more than anything else, laughter truly is the best medicine.
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