When the time comes to spend the day at the DayCare centre

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I have always wondered what I will be doing on most days when I have difficulties in walking, when I am lonely and when I grow old.  My time will come.  But, not yet, I can still walk, I can still work, and I like to work for as long as my legs allow me. Of course, soon or later, I cannot work; but I want to keep myself active, and maybe do some volunteer work.  That’s if I have the money to live through my SilverHairs years.

A couple of days ago, I visited a privately-run  daycare centre in Australia. It has a size of about 400 sqm.  It opens Monday to Friday 10.30am to 3.00 pm.  The Daycare is run by some fulltime staff and some volunteers.  It has a good size kitchen that prepares food and drinks for the elderlies that come to the centre.

The Daycare has a program, with different activities each day eg singing, poetry, crafts, games, magic show, indoor golf, …..  The activities are organised by the full time staff.  The elderlies, all of them, require some help in moving around, and thus not bed-ridden.  The daycare accepts elderlies who are not suffering from contagious diseases, dimentia, and mental illnesses.  They live within a certain distance from the day-care and are picked up by a van driver from their residence. They arrive at the daycare at 10.30am each day, in a specially designed van.

The kitchen services the daycare and cooks the meal of the day, as well as prepares hot beverages and biscuits twice a day. The kitchen is run by a full time staff.  Volunteers assist in the kitchen, serves the elderlies and generally clean up the place after lunch.

While at the daycare, elderlies get to play games, learn a craft, enjoy singing, do some gardening and follow the program of the day.  Many elderlies are lonely and they do not want to stay at home.  Their children prefers they go out, keep active and mix with other friends. At the end of the day, the elderlies are happy, and look forward to meeting other elderlies on other days.

I spoke with the staff of the daycare centre.  The daycare employs some full time paid staff who administrates the centre, organises the activities and the daycare operation which includes picking up the elderlies from and to their homes.  The volunteers help with interacting with the elderlies, keeps the place clean and tidy and other odds and ends. The centre is self funded, and it survives based on collections from the elderlies.  At the end of each day, the centre collects between AUD 25 – 30 from the elderlies.  This includes home-daycare centre transfers, a main meal, two tea-breaks, activities and program as per published schedules, plus a healthy day interacting with other elderlies.

I am not sure if the daycare centre is privately owned or rented. But, I see it as located within a quiet residential community. The daycare pays for maintenance, lightings and water tilities and upkeep of the building.

I am not sure how daycare centres are operated in Singapore; but I see some silver linings in a daycare centre.

  1. There are opportunities for seniors and elderlies to use the services of a privately daycare centre.
  2. Full time seniors get to work and get paid in a daycare centre, not a home or a hospital.
  3. Opportunities for seniors to volunteer some time to interact with elderlies who are lonely, chatty, fun and need someone to talk to.

I think each of us has a different vision of what we will do when we have difficulties walking, cannot leave our homes on our own or meet friends without assisted transport or feel lonely while our children are working to earn a living.  Many of our children would hope we can spend some time outside to get some fresh air, meet our regular friends and have our regular lunch.

Will you go to a Daycare centre and join its activities?

Terence Seah

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26 thoughts on “When the time comes to spend the day at the DayCare centre

  1. I am not too sure what are you looking at ? There are a number of old folk corners
    run by residential committee at HDB heartland mainly at hoarded up void decks where there are certain basic leisure facilties to while away time. Such as chess, newspaper, TV and KTV sets. Its running hours are like morning to evening and no stay in.
    No ideas how is it funded or any membership or fee collected? We are very clear cut on the difference between nursing home and day care centre. There is a shortage of nursing home and the cost of staying in one is high such that an enterprising Singaporean /Malaysian run a nursing home in JB that also cater to Singaporeans. The cost of staying in one there is about half that of Singapore.
    Probably taking the hint from Khaw Boon Wan.
    One of such place has 40 over percent Singaporean in an article I read when I was in the reception lobby of an entertainment centre recently in JB.

  2. Hi Leon,

    Thank you for your feedback. I guess you have seen a Daycare centre at work. Honestly, I have not, altho I have visited a number of elderly homes. Elderlies get to go to a Daycare centre on their own to enjoy the company of other elderlies or to spend the day fruitfully. When I was at this Daycare centre, I see loads of smiles. They do not bring along their maids, as the Daycare drivers pick them up; They are pretty mobile, on their walking sticks and wheelchairs. I dont even see children bringng along their elderly parents.

    With this post, I am hoping to hear from members who have experience sending their parents to a Daycare centre, why they do so and what does it cost. What does it cost in Malaysia or in Singapore?

    Terence Seah

  3. Hi Leon, TQ for this website. I plan to visit them when I am back in Singapore. Maybe I have to go to one of them when I am retired.

    Who wants to join me?

    Terence Seah

  4. Today, I visited the DayCare again. This time, there was another group of 24 elderlies. A different group, the daycare seems to take in different elderlies on different days. Today, the elderlies had beef stew. Played similar games and chatted the whole day.

    Hi May, Frisna, in 20 years time, I am thinking of both of you to be full time staff of this dream Daycare centre. Both of you are imagative, creative and friendly.

    And Leon, in 15 years, you can be a part owner of this Daycare.

    Terence Seah

  5. At a daycare centre at Serangoon Central I visited last year, I saw about 20 elderly most in wheelchair being taken through the programme at the centre. There were exercise , tea break, videos. .. I also saw a corner furnished like a shop with some wooden tables and a mahjong table, but that area was vacant when I visited.
    What I would like to share is most of the elderly were quiet and looked bored. Only one old man was cheerful and ‘noisy’ and sociable with the staff there. Many of the elderly could not follow the exercise. One man in a wheelchair was nodding off to sleep. An elderly woman in a wheelchair refused to join in the exercise in spite of coaxing from the staff and they left her alone after that.
    When tea-time was announced, many of them became interested as they were moved in the direction of the dining area.

    I witnessed two rather sad incidents. A middle -aged man standing outside the centre, talked to an elderly in a wheelchair inside the centre through the windows. He told the old man to remain there, that he was going to work and that he would return to bring him back. The old man looked resigned.
    At about 4pm as I was going to leave the centre, I saw another old man suddenly become energetic and tried to move his wheelchair towards the entrance. He had seen through the windows his family coming to bring him back.

    It is difficult for daycare centres to be a place for frail elderly to socialize unless these elderly, though not in the best of health, are still mentally alert to gossip, joke, learn… It is not possible for socialization to take place if the frail elderly are on the verge of dementia or are unsociable with strangers as what I saw at the daycare centre at Serangoon Central.

    I think our generation would be able to adapt to change better and make the most of daycare when the time comes to be sent there by our caregivers/families.

  6. I have not experienced going to a DayCare centre; although I am beginning to see that one day, I will go to one. On the right side of our Club, I put up a video on “A Day at the DayCare”.

    Dan, in 15 years time, can you be our Dream DayCare centre driver? Maybe, part time for some of our elderly members.

    Where will you be?

    Terence Seah

  7. Heehee Terence

    There are a few levels of senior daycare membership:

    The first level is a voluntary, self check-in,,,you decide when and where you want to go. Obviously you must have the means and the mental capacity to this this. I’m thinking of checking into the St Regis retirement home…but I need about $12 million to do this… No, I think it is better to go to Thailand and get myself a beachside cottage with three Thai beauties to attend to my every whim and fancy…for the same amount of money plus change!

    The second level is when you are do not independently decide to go…but your family or caregiver sends you there! The best is when you are still mobile and lucid…and are able to afford at least the $3,000 ringgit if not the S$5,000 per month top-end daycare. Think of day-long mahjong sessions and intellectual debates on the QE or IS.

    Yes, I know, it’s daycare, not retirement home…but it’s quite similar, only that you go home to your familiar bed and not spend the night with a hundred other residents…hey, that’s not too bad if you have got a few hot dames around… I mean the nurses, not the wheelchair Golden Girls! Before I’m excited…oops…I mean accused (this predictive function of smartphones can be exasperating!) of being an MCP I’d better stop!

    The third level is non-negotiable and close to being institutionalised… You’re ignominously assigned to a daycare…though by this time you may not care or be aware… Terence, I don’t think we wart this membership level!

  8. Terence,
    I would not know where I would be in 10 year not to mention 15 years.
    You sounded quite convinced you would ended up there. To own and run a day care, the objective should be social and not commercial. Will need to have a profitable enterprise elsewhere for the day centre to bleed. That is why a majority is run by NTUC and the private one funded with regular donation.

    The level of participation of elderly at the day care centre depend much on their
    personality whether they want to be socially engaging or extrovert or
    be “living zombies”. Same as what we see here in the SHC forum. It is always the handful who participates despite the membership base. By and large statistically, there are always more observers than participants. As long as they are happy observing, I believe the participants will also felt appreciated. That being said the state of health, dementia or not, energy level left within them played a part in their willingness to participate in the events there.

  9. Back to the DayCare centre. I went the same DayCare centre today again. I was pretty sure what I wanted to do; I just wanted to chat with the elderlies. At 60 – 75, what the elderlies wanted was to have someone to talk with. They do not want to stay at home. Nobody is at home. Their kids are working and have their own families. The spouse is somewhere up there.

    Leon, you are right. Operating a Daycare can only be NTUC business. Unfortunately, we do not have all the money in the world. There are staff to pay, to manage the Daycare operations, although there are a number of volunteers. Fact is all of us who are active now, can still walk, can bathe and can still talk. But we can get lonely, and we still need friends.

    Jassmine, I would love to listen to your poems in about 15 years time. Maybe now, I can only read your poems on this forum. I am sure I can enjoy every word of your poem when I have nothing to do. And I am sure many others will love to hear a poem from you, once a week.

    We die faster, if we suffer from loneliness, lack of activities and lack of engagement. I wonder how many SilverHairs members spent most of their time at home.

    Terence Seah

  10. Today, one more visit to another Daycare centre.

    Leon, you hit it right when you say that most daycare centres in Singapore are run by NTUC. At the age of 70 to 80, paying for A Day at the Daycare, would cost a significant amount. How to afford? At this daycare in Perth, each participant pays between AUD 24 – 27 a day. They dont come every day, because I think it is expensive. But, one observation is almost all the participants have money to spend for a day at the Daycare, approx 4-8 times a month. In Singapore, this would be S$100 – 200 per month.

    I guess this is the amount some of us will have to spend when we reach 70 – for home transfers, activity, a meal and tea plus activities. Of course, if we are at least slightly mobile.

    We have a couple of balloon sculptors in the Club. They will be fun and valuable at the DayCare.

    Terence Seah

  11. Hi Terence

    You may meet shc friends at the Daycare Centre … Can enjoy the following activities together …

    uke & singing
    baking & cookery classes
    cards playing
    SLOW dancing
    kopi drinking/yakking

    Haha…. no end to the list of activities ya?

    Happy dreaming ~

  12. Thank you Gabriella. I look forward tothe Byrani lunch.
    Just decide to come back to Singapore; as I have some urgent work to do.

    Our Dream DayCare will look at incorporating some of your mentioned activities for SilverHairs, as we reach 70, and getting feeble. We need activity organisers to us active, even though we are on walking sticks and pushing wheelchairs.

    Terence Seah

  13. I think the dream DayCare for SilverHairsClub members is workable, judging from the meetings I have with some of you in the last few days. As we reach 70, maybe earlier or later, many of us will still want to meet one another. To catch up, have lunch together, and have a few session of activities which we are together.

    For those who cannot make it to join us on your own, maybe we can use the services of Dan Huang, if he is still driving a taxi when we reach 70. Maybe he will charge us a reasonable fee. OK, one driver.

    Cooks, we need to have some healthy food for lunch at the DayCare. Some exotic turtles, beef stew with yellow rice. Many ladies would qualify to be our healthy cooks. As long as we dont choke on the bones, I think your cooking would suit the 70s. We need lunch 5 days a week. You dont have to cook every day. If you can cook for 25 – 30 pax, I think we can venture into it.

    Then, we have morning tea and afternoon tea. At 70, some biscuits or cakes would be fine.

    It’s easy to participate in our SHC DayCare. Simply share your comments, ideas and thoughts here, your name will be registered.

    Terence Seah

  14. Alamak Gabriella…do you know what the balloon is for?
    Reminds me of an old joke by septuagenarian George Burns (now deceased) who quipped: “Having sex at my age is like playing pool with a piece of rope!”

  15. Aiyayayaya!

    I forgot to remind members to watch Channel 5 tonight at 10.30pm tonight… The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel… an entertaining movie on the veracities of growing old…a touching account of growing old.

    Watch it and enjoy!

  16. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been showing at the cinemas for something like two weeks now. Catch it before it ends.

    You will definitely enjoy it.

    It’s more colorful, entertaining and certainly gives a lot of encouragement to the elderly romantics.


  17. Hi Freda
    Glad you enjoyed the movie and I hope that many others did too!

    Yes, Daisy
    The sequel is showing at the Next and Lido theatres…it is more entertaining but,
    like most sequels, is a bit short on storyline. But watch it all the same.

  18. While it is still early to develop our dream DayCare, I think it is a good idea to think about how we can still keep ourselves active and in touch with one another when we reach 65, 70 or 75. Some of us will still be around. We can still socialise, have morning and afternoon tea together, lunch too, and enjoy regular games, hobbies and sightseeing. Of course, while we are still mobile. I may have a walking stick by then, not sure about the rest of us.

    I like to develop the idea of the dream DayCare, where perhaps we can meet one day a week, while we are still sane and not suffering from serious illness.

    If you think you can contribute ideas to our dream DayCare, for ourselves when we reach 65-75 years, please get in touch with me at whatsapp +65 94894360.

    Terence Seah

  19. The SHC Daycare facility is very different from the standard daycare centres that we have now. In the SHC Daycare, there is a corner with at least two mahjong tables. There are other tables for board games, card games and bingo. Then there’s a corner for karaoke, a little reading room, a small gym and a corner where there’s a keyboard/piano, some guitars and ukuleles and a guzheng , catering to the musically inclined frail,elderly patrons.

    Outside the daycare block is a little garden with many flowering plants and a water feature ( a big clay urn full of water with a bamboo pipe structure above where water flows into the urn with a gurgling sound)for patrons in a reflective mood to have space for reflection while listening to the sound of water, and perhaps watching butterflies flit from flower to flower.

    There are two scheduled activities per day for all patrons to enjoy: movie/craftwork etc at 10.30am and a wheelchair stroll around the neighbourhood park and shops at 4p.m. rotating with a talk on topics of interest to the elderly.

    The staff keeping an eye on the frail, elderly patrons are in uniform and are discreet – most of the time they are hardly visible, hence, lulling these patrons into thinking they are in a club instead of a daycare centre.

    Looking forward to joining the SHC Daycare Club! 🙂

    [image=water feature.jpg]

  20. Thank you for contributing ideas on the dream SHC DayCare Club. I would rather say this is a dream club because it may happen, and it may not. Where all of us will be in 10 years time, we cannot tell for sure; but for those who are still around, we would like to see one another, enjoy a hobby together, have a round of afternoon dancing, perhaps just a chitchat over tea or coffee and have lunch together too. We can still learn some crafts. Maybe, we cannot walk well, need a walking stick or a wheel chair.

    In 10 to 20 years time, SilverHairsClub members will still need friends; and we would like to socialise. Every year, we grow older by one year.

    I think it will be nice to take SilverHairsClub from where it is now to where we think it will be in 10 years time. For new members, who join at 45, they may have another 20 years more, before the legs say “enough is enough”. For those who are 60 now, I included, we will be 70 in 10 years.

    What this dream Daycare club will be like requires quite a fair bit of dreaming. I am back next week, and I would like to invite members who can contribute ideas to the Dream SHC DayCare for lunch next Sat. I am thinking of starting at 10am, over 2 hours, and then have lunch. Please contact me if you are interested.

    Terence Seah

  21. Thank you to the members who have been offering ideas on the SHC Daycare. Here’s some update for everybody.

    1. The name DayCare was not agreeable as it has the connotation of old age, dangling hands and shaky legs. So, we may have to think of a more exciting name. Maybe we can call the activity “SHC Orchids”. Share your thoughts.

    2. Most participants object to the name DayCare; although most think that the activities that we currently are interested in, can continue to our later years under SHC Orchids. The difference is the activities are less demanding> We discussed the biggest concern being transportation, venue and costs.

    4. SHC Orchids activities include meeting one another and chitchats, crafts, tea breaks and lunch, hobbies, mahjong, dancing, short walks, visiting sights, sharing old photos to bring back memories, and short movies.

    5. Transportation was considered an issue, might be too expensive and not practical or feasible. We discussed childen sending their parents to SHC Orchids in the morning and returning at the end of the day. An interesting observation is many SHC members have already stopped attending and participating in SHC activities, as they are unable to walk, and need help with moving around. Our turn soon.

    6. Financing was discussed; although the discussion group felt that participation should be on a per-attendance basis. We could not agree on a target price per person; although we think that the charge should be kept low to cover venue costs, lunch/tea breaks. organising activities, full time, part time and volunteers costs. While $25 per day attendance visit was felt as acceptable, most participants think it is not workable, as operatig costs are too high. But, we hope to offer packages at $100 per month, for 4 weeks, one day a week.

    The group felt that we should push our government to set up such a venture, although no one hands up to push the idea. Our Singapore DayCare was considered as the solution; although some felt we should do a self-help project.

    Thank you for members who have participated. Will update you next.

    Terence Seah

  22. Hi Terence
    The proposed name ‘SHC Orchids’ sounds intriguing and makes one feel young again! 🙂 Good suggestion.

    The activities seem like an extention of your current shc activities. Sounds great!

    Good Luck …………

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