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A Rehabilitation Centre with a Human Touch

The Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre is not only a physiotherapy centre, but also a sanctuary where patients and their family members can find a listening ear and much needed emotional support.


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A volunteer lending a listening ear to a family member of a patient at the Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)  

In the void deck of Blk 328 at Jurong East Street 32, there is a small-scale day rehabilitation centre, which provides physiotherapy services, from Mondays to Fridays. The centre was officially opened by Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) on 17th April 2017.

Walking into the Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre, one’s eyes will be greeted by a picture of “the Buddha nursing his sick disciple”. The left side of the centre has a neat little space with a few small round tables and chairs for resting and chatting, while the right side is occupied by the registration and information desk.

Lined along the centre’s corridor are the various therapy rooms, including two consultation rooms, a gym room, an electro therapy room, an occupational therapy room, and a neuro-rehab room.

Companionship Provides Soothing Comfort

Besides the physiotherapist, assistant physiotherapist, and administrative staff, there are uniformed Tzu Chi volunteers stationed in the waiting area and treatment rooms to provide assistance when needed. They help physically impaired patients in getting onto/off the treatment beds and turning their bodies, assist with wheelchair transfers, support patients in their various exercises, etc.  

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“1, 2, 1, 2,… …” A physiotherapist gently guides a physically impaired elderly patient as he practices walking. Photo by Pang Lun Peng

These volunteers are more than the therapists’ assistants. They also serve an important role of providing a compassionate listening ear to the patients and their families as they pour out their hearts and share their life stories. Sometimes, even the subtlest act of kindness by a volunteer is enough to touch a patient’s heart.

Stroke survivor Ye Zong Xian had a mild stroke in September last year. Through the recommendation of a friend who is a Tzu Chi volunteer, he was accompanied by his wife, Zhong Qun Ying, to the Day Rehabilitation Centre, to receive physiotherapy treatment.

Mdm Zhong recalled an unexpected pleasant surprise that she had experienced at the centre while waiting for her husband: “Once, I felt really cold sitting here, and a volunteer brought me a cup of hot water.”

Mdm Zhong said that as she was sitting directly under the air-con vents, she could feel the chills from the cold air blasts. What she did not expect was a volunteer who offered her a cup of hot water. It was this thoughtfulness that made her heart brim over with gratitude.

Her husband’s sudden onset of stroke took her by surprise, and she felt rather helpless. During each visit to the rehabilitation centre, while she waited for her husband to complete his treatment, there would always be a volunteer there to keep her company.

“The volunteers here are very nice. When they see me sitting alone, they will come over to chat with me, and offer me helpful advice,” she shared.

“I can feel everyone’s love over here, and I also feel happy to be here. The volunteers and physiotherapists are all very loving to us,” said Mr Ye. “Sometimes when I was walking, the volunteers were afraid of me falling, and would hold me up as I walked. They even helped me to put on my shoes. I feel embarrassed by all their attention… …”

Through receiving physiotherapy at the rehabilitation centre, Mr Ye was making slow yet steady progress towards his recovery. Even his wife who accompanied him on this journey could feel some measure of relief as the volunteers’ care and concern had helped lighten up her heart. Once, a volunteer even shared with her: “Things happen for a reason. There is no point brooding over the adversities in life. If you encounter any difficulties, just say it out (and we’ll try our best to help you).”

Highly Motivated to Pursue Rehabilitation

“Aiyah……Aiyah……”

“Relax… …Relax……”

Patient Mr Li Chang Ming revealed an expression of unbearable pain, and uttered loud cries of pain.

In the neuro-rehab room, assistant physiotherapist, Ms Chen Xiu Zhu was helping him to stretch his muscles, while the volunteer beside him constantly reminded him to relax his body.

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Physiotherapist Chen Xiu Zhu helps Li Chang Ming, a patient, to stretch his limbs, while Tzu Chi volunteer Lock Meng Swee supports him and gently reminds him to relax his body. Photo by Pang Lun Peng

Mr Li Chang Ming, whose memory was affected by his stroke, was receiving treatment to improve finger flexion and also being guided to do muscle stretching exercises. While performing physiotherapy, Chen Xiu Zhu also attempted to help stimulate his brain by asking him questions, such as “What is your name?”, “How old are you?”, “Where do you live?” etc. At times, his replies were vague and there were times he was stumped for answers.

Li Chang Ming is a long-term Tzu Chi aid beneficiary. Through the referral of a Tzu Chi volunteer, he started coming to the rehabilitation centre with the company of his wife, Yan Qun. After more than two months of treatment, Yan Qun noticed a marked improvement in her husband -- that he had become very hardworking in doing the physiotherapy exercises.

“Now, he is highly motivated to practise walking back and forth at home. Before he started coming to the centre, he wasn’t so industrious. But now, he even takes the initiative to pour himself water and wash his cup at home,” she shared.

Yan Qun credited the change in her husband’s mentality to the efforts of the therapists and volunteers in the rehabilitation centre. She said that they would chat with her husband and encourage him whenever they saw him. “Although he would experience some pain during therapy sessions, he would endure it. He always smiled after completing each treatment.”

In the arduous recovery journey of a stroke patient, besides physiotherapy, the patient’s attitude and mindset also play an important role in his/her recovery journey. Chen Xiu Zhu said that if a patient was constantly plagued by negative thoughts and did not work hard at the exercises, it would be very difficult for him to achieve the desired rehabilitation results. Hence, recovery ultimately boils down to the patient’s own efforts. Chen also revealed that many patients felt that the company, comfort, and encouragement of the volunteers made them feel loved and really warmed their hearts.

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With the guidance of physiotherapists and the loving company of volunteers, no one feels alone in his recovery journey. Photo by Pang Lun Peng

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Former patient Huang Su Qin (first from left), whose back pain was resolved after receiving physiotherapy at the rehabilitation centre, returns to serve as a volunteer during her free time. (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)  

Crossing the Language Barrier

Physiotherapy is designed to assist patients in restoring their bodily functions. It helps to improve psychomotor coordination, loosen tight muscles, correct joint issues, etc., thereby improving patients’ quality of life. Mr Vinoth, who is the chief physiotherapist at the rehabilitation entre, said that presently, the centre’s physiotherapy’s primary targets are stroke survivors, patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as those with chronic back, neck and spinal pains. There are also plans to include occupational therapy in the future.

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Vinoth using a walker to correct the walking gait of a patient, to improve his walking ability. Photo by Pang Lun Peng

Presently, the centre sees about 20 to 25 patients daily. The patients are from various racial and age groups, of which the elderly formed the majority. Vinoth, who is neither schooled in Bahasa Melayu or Chinese, has occasionally faced the dilemma of language barriers. When a patient is not able to converse in English, Vinoth will have a hard time understanding him/her. Fortunately, he can rely on the help of volunteers who serve as interpreters, thus enabling him to better understand the needs and situations of the patients. He also discovered that the volunteers are able to engage in conversations with the patients naturally in their own languages, and this has helped to soothe any feelings of uneasiness and make them feel more welcomed.

Presently, Singapore is faced with the urgent issue of a rapidly aging population, with an increasing number of sufferers of chronic diseases. Over the past two and a half years, Tzu Chi has discovered through its Home Care Services established in the western part of Singapore, that there are actually many sufferers of such diseases, especially among the elderly, who can effectively delay or improve their chronic conditions through physiotherapy.

Following the taking over of Lakeside Family Medicine Clinic by Tzu Chi in Nov 2016, the GP outpatient services formerly provided by the Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic have been relocated to this clinic. The original space occupied by the Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic has since been converted into the Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre after approval by the Ministry of Health (MOH), in response to the growing medical needs of an aging population.

The Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre is a participating healthcare centre under MOH’s Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). CHAS card holders are entitled to one of the two tiers of subsidies. Blue-coloured CHAS card holders will only need to pay a token sum of $5 as an administrative fee, while orange-coloured CHAS card holders will need to pay a slightly higher token fee of $10.

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The Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre is located within a HDB void deck. Photo by Chan May Chin

Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centre
Add.:Block 328, Jurong East Street 31, #01-138
Tel :  (65) 65696221
Fax : (65) 65691877
Email: dayrehab@tzuchi.org.sg

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 8.30am - 5.30pm
Lunch break:12.30pm - 1.30pm
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public holidays
*Please call the Centre for appointments


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