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The Gift of Time
30 October 2018

To give is a blessing in and of itself. Volunteers Ayuri and Gwendoline share what it’s like teaching chair yoga to our Day Hospice patients.

For HCA patient Tjoa Gek Mui, 77, speaking is an immense challenge because of her health condition, which has affected her vocal cords. But the physical limitations have not deterred her from expressing her appreciation to Day Hospice volunteers Ayuri, 32, and Gwendoline Lim, 41. The duo, together with a few friends, have been running weekly chair yoga sessions for the patients in the last few months.

“She is unable to vocalise her thoughts so she always writes us thank you notes,” Gwendoline says.

Simple stretching exercises help to boost flexibility and improve blood circulation.

It is often said that volunteering is a two-way street – the gift of our time reaps intangible rewards far more meaningful than we might expect. These little gestures of sincerity are what keeps volunteers like Ayuri and Gwendoline going and motivates them to kickstart new projects that are fun and beneficial for our Day Hospice patients. 

Infusing Life in Moments

Our patients’ days might be numbered – with an average prognosis of a year or less – but the Day Hospice is a sanctuary brought to life with love, care and compassion.

Each day is abuzz with laughter and chatter, with a plethora of activities mostly run by volunteers. Chair yoga is held every Friday morning, a seated variation of traditional yoga, which typically entails a certain level of fitness and flexibility that our patients might not have.

The chair yoga sessions are a collective effort by Ayuri, Gwendoline and their friends.

“I did research online on the suitability of chair yoga for patients receiving palliative care and also consulted with HCA staff and my teacher,” Ayuri explains. The movements are seemingly simple, involving gentle limb stretches, forward bends and breathing exercises.

“The joint loosening moves are generally easy to do, but the paradox is that the simpler the move, the more difficult it is to execute,” Ayuri says.

But despite the physical challenges some Day Hospice patients encounter, the spirit of perseverance is evident. Gwendoline recalls an elderly man who became increasingly jaundiced over the months: “When we first started the chair yoga sessions, it was relatively easy for him to follow our instructions. But over the months, he became progressively weaker and it was increasingly difficult for him to do the moves, but he still tried.”

A Lasting Gift

In line with HCA’s move to provide more programme choices at the Day Hospice, Ayuri decided to embark on an instructional video demonstrating the various chair yoga moves. The varied options will provide more engagement for the patients by enabling them to choose the activity they are most interested in.

For patients who are interested in doing some light exercises, they will be able to engage in chair yoga on their own by following the instructional video.

Going behind the scenes of the filming process.

From the meticulous setup of film equipment to the multiple takes each week, it is evident that the instructional video is a work of labour and love. “We were thinking about how we can further bring the benefits of chair yoga to the patients,” Ayuri explains.

The gift of time represents a non-retractable commitment in the fast-paced, time-poor society we live in and it is our hope that more volunteers will join the HCA family in years to come.