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When Dreams Become Reality
27 June 2017

HCA patient Rajagopal receives a motorised scooter from an anonymous sponsor through Dream Makers.

Walking to the train station and climbing seemingly endless flights of stairs while lamenting about the sweltering heat — we often take for granted simple blessings like the ability to walk and get around on our daily routines.

For 85-year-old Rajagopal S/O Manickam, who suffers from thyroid cancer, sitting and walking are excruciatingly difficult activities. The cancer has spread to his bones, which causes stiffness and pain in his joints, affecting his mobility. As a result, Mr Rajagopal and his wife, Mdm Menachee, are mostly home bound.

THE MOTORISED SCOOTER HAS GREATLY IMPROVED MR RAJAGOPAL’S MOBILITY.

Mr Rajagopal had often expressed his wish to get out of the house to undertake simple day-to-day activities such as shopping for groceries and visiting the Indian temple, but was hindered by his health problems.

This was brought to the attention of Angela Tan, HCA’s Director of Nursing, who started looking for solutions for the elderly couple.

When Catherine Ho, founder of Dream Makers, reached out to HCA with her desire to grant wishes for the elderly sick, the team immediately thought of Mr Rajagopal and his yearning to explore the outside world, beyond the confines of home. “We are a group of volunteers who started Dream Makers to fulfil wishes for the elderly sick,” Catherine shares. “We noticed there was a gap in which the last wishes of the elderly are often not attended to.”

MR RAJAGOPAL AND MDM MENACHEE WITH ANGELA (FAR LEFT) AND CATHERINE (FAR RIGHT).

The team galvanised into action, connecting with a sponsor who kindly donated a motorised scooter and applied an anti-slip treatment to the toilet floor of the elderly couple’s home.

Both were thoughtful, practical gifts geared towards improving the day-to-day life of Mr Rajagopal and his wife, who is also his caregiver.

Gifts from the heart

On 2 June, the team showed up at the couple’s home to present the motorised scooter to Mr Rajagopal and to chemically treat the floor tiles, a time-consuming process that took several hours.

The transparent film of coating creates friction and minimises the risk of slips and falls when the floor is wet or soapy, a feature essential to the living spaces of the elderly, who are susceptible to falls.

MR RAJAGOPAL PAYS CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTOR.

An instructor was on hand to guide Mr Rajagopal on the use of the motorised scooter, from steering it out of the narrow doorway, to utilising the lift safely and navigating traffic crossings and slopes. It was evident that the elderly man relished his newfound freedom.

“I’m very happy with the scooter,” Mr Rajagopal said, while excitedly exploring the pedals and buttons of the new vehicle.

Mdm Menachee, an affable and hospitable lady, carefully listened in as Angela repeatedly reminded her not to stand behind the scooter while it was in motion.

The loving couple has been married for 49 years, sharing a bond that has withstood the test of time. “I can go anywhere with him on weekends now,” the soft-spoken lady said. “We usually like going to Chinatown, Tekka Market and the temple.”

MADAM MENACHEE AND MR RAJAGOPAL LEARN THE DOS AND DON’TS OF USING THE MOTORISED SCOOTER.

There are numerous elderly folks like Mr Rajagopal and his wife, whose needs are not always met — and it is HCA’s belief that by working hand in hand with groups such as Dream Makers, we can empower them to lead better lives.