Support the needs of seniors in the neighbourhood
If you are searching for a way to make a meaningful impact while forging new connections, why not sign up as a befriender? By dedicating just a few hours of your spare time every month, you can bring joy and companionship to the lives of our seniors.
We currently have about 150 active befrienders, who have been linked up with more than 1,000 seniors, aged between 60 and 100. Many of these seniors are socially vulnerable, have medical conditions or have difficulty getting out of the house due to mobility issues. Due to their disabilities or issues caused by old age, some of them are home-bound and may live alone, and rely on befrienders for companionship.
Befriending involves trained volunteers offering support and encouragement to socially vulnerable seniors. They will need to commit to regular monthly or fortnightly visits to foster friendships with these seniors (befriendees). During these visits, befrienders provide support in the form of companionship to seniors who are possibly living alone and may not have someone to care for them on a regular basis. This may mean simply lending a listening ear or checking that a senior takes his/her prescribed medication regularly. Such acts of kindness can go a long way in preventing our seniors from feeling alone or forgotten.
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As a befriender, your role extends beyond conducting regular home visits and tele-befriending sessions; you become a source of emotional support and meaningful companionship for socially vulnerable seniors.
These seniors are usually those who are at risk of social isolation due to factors that could be related to their social, psycho-emotional or physical well-being. They often live alone and may sometimes be the primary caregiver to a loved one with high care needs.
During your visits, you will have the opportunity to engage in heartfelt conversations, and help create a safe and comforting environment that helps seniors build social ties and stay connected with their community. By doing so, you play an instrumental role in restoring their sense of belonging, which is essential for their overall well-being. Your presence promotes active and positive aging, ensuring these seniors continue to lead fulfilling lives.
Despite their vulnerability, many seniors may find it challenging to ask for help, fearing they could burden others or be perceived as a bother. Consequently, they may become emotionally distressed, struggling to cope with their basic needs. Your warm interactions and friendly conversations as a befriender can alleviate this emotional distress, making a significant difference in their lives. Through your companionship, you offer a lifeline, uplifting their spirits and showing them that they are cared for and valued.
In addition to the joy you bring into their lives, your role as a befriender involves being attentive to their needs and providing feedback to NTUC Health’s coordinators, ensuring that specific actions are taken to provide further assistance when required. With your support, these seniors can age gracefully and cherish a sense of connectedness that enhances their quality of life. Becoming a befriender offers you the chance to give back to the community and create a positive impact in the lives of these seniors who need love, care, and companionship in their golden years.
In Singapore, we are always in need of befrienders to help provide regular companionship and support for seniors in their golden years. Anyone who is 16 years old and above can volunteer to be a befriender. As formal training will be provided, what is most important is that you are willing to listen, because most of our seniors just need a person whom they can talk to. We encourage befrienders to be compassionate listeners and practice empathy during your home visits.
Other suitable skills/qualities preferred:
Knowing that you are making a positive impact on the life of a senior in need can be incredibly rewarding. By providing emotional support, engaging in conversation, and offering companionship, you have the power to uplift the spirits of the befriendee and help them lead a happier and more fulfilling life. Moreover, interacting with seniors who have a wealth of life experiences can be enriching and fun! Listening to their stories, insights, and wisdom can broaden your perspective in life and offer valuable life lessons. If you have a common hobby or interest with the befriendee, you could also engage in these activities with them or even better, bring your befriendeee to one of NTUC Health’s Active Ageing Centres for activities such as gardening, arts and crafts and more!
Being a Befriender is incredibly rewarding when you see the faces of the seniors light up when you pay them a visit. By bringing joy to those who need it most, you can help create a world where no one feels forgotten or isolated.
Mdm Alijah and her close workplace buddy Mdm Santha lost touch after Mdm Santha had an accident at work and resigned. 45 years later, in 2022, as a befriender, Madam Alijah was assigned to a new befriendee. To her surprise, it was Mdm Santha whom she has been looking to reconnect with. Madam Alijah now visits Mdm Santha twice a month and has even roped in her daughter to help collect food rations for Madam Koorunathan who has mobility issues.
Befriender Mr Teh Kok Seng, 68, visits Mr Quek Soon Cheh, 64 on a monthly basis. Having volunteered for various organisations for about 18 years, Mr Teh decided to be a befriender in 2019. In that same year, he started befriending Mr Quek. Mr Teh had 16 surgeries till date, so he is able to empathise with Mr Quek who goes to the polyclinic to check on his left foot every other day and goes for dialysis sessions thrice weekly. Mr Quek has his right lower limb amputated and is wheelchair bound. He is hardly visited by family members as they have their own medical conditions and responsibilities to take care of. Today, Mr Quek and Mr Teh acknowledge each other as friends after years of conversations and companionship.
Stepping into the role of a befriender is a transformative journey that will enable you to have a profound impact on someone in need. You hold the power to bring light to someone's darkest days by reassuring them that they are not alone.
By bringing happiness, companionship, and empowerment to socially vulnerable seniors, you are contributing to build a stronger support system for Singapore's seniors. Our volunteer programme offers comprehensive training, ongoing support, and the opportunity to forge lasting friendships. Together, we can create a compassionate society where no one feels isolated or forgotten. Join us in making a positive difference in the lives of those who need care and companionship.
Take that first step towards becoming a befriender and embark on a journey of compassion and connection.
To register as a volunteer, please fill in the Volunteer Registration Form here: Volunteer Registration Form.
As a start, volunteers are required to commit only about once or twice a month, at least 30 minutes per visit. You can choose to increase your commitment and visit more than one befriendee.
Indicate your language skills and preferred location / address when you are filling up the volunteer registration. That way, you will be matched with someone who speaks the same language and stays near you.
Training will be provided. All befrienders will have to attend a mandatory orientation of approximately 2 hours before they are assigned befriendees. A NTUC Health associate will also be present on the first day when the befriender meets befriendee.
Befrienders are not required to bathe befriendees or take them to the bathroom. More commonly, we have befrienders who accompany befriendees for their medical appointments. However, before you do so, please inform the befriending coordinator.
During the orientation, befrienders will be briefed on some common requests by seniors which you can assist with. For requests that deviate from the common requests, inform the befriending coordinator and seek advice. Do not promise anything on behalf of the centre.
We encourage volunteers to commit to befriending for a minimum period of 6 months to ensure that the senior is supported, and minimise disruption in the relationship building process. If the befrienders change regularly, there will be a lot of rapport building instead of establishing and strengthening the bonds between the befriender and befriendee. If you need to stop for an extended period, please inform the befriending coordinator a month in advance. This is to prepare the senior for the change in befriender.
Befrienders will be required to complete post-visit reports via an online link. This will allow us to keep track of the visits and to know that if the befriendees require additional assistance.
There will be no financial reimbursements. However, volunteers can expect regular volunteer appreciation gatherings at our Active Ageing Centres as we would like to appreciate your efforts.
Yes, our befriending coordinator will work with you and the senior to schedule the visits monthly based on the frequency of visits. Should you be unable to make it for certain visits, please inform the befriending coordinator who will make alternate arrangements or reschedule that particular visit.
Yes! While we are happy that you have established a connection with the befriendee, we would require you to inform the centre for any additional visits.
Please feel welcome to do so if it is to the nearby market, food centre or to the centre. However, we discourage any trips beyond that. If there are any such requests, please clear them with the befriending coordinator.
From time to time, the centre may invite befriendees to participate in centre activities or outings. We may require your assistance to accompany the befriendee for such activities. Other than home visits, you may be required to call befriendees as part of the check-ins.
You may make your way to the centre, and contact the befriendee using the centre hotline.
Apart from befriending services, volunteers with NTUC Health can also play an important part in our centre-based activities. Volunteers can lead or participate in providing care, support and a listening ear to our seniors at our Nursing Homes, Active Ageing Centres and Day Centre for Seniors.
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