Community-Based Service Centres Collaborate to Make Integration Possible and Improve the Lives of Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

Singapore, 26 February 2005 – Benson Tiew was driving home after work as a technician three years ago when his car collided with a bus. He sustained spinal cord injury at C6/7 and was treated at a hospital for three months. Unable to walk on his own, he became a wheelchair user.

In January 2004, Benson enrolled with The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) where he received regularly physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the SPD Rehabilitation Centre. He was employed at the sheltered workshop where he was also given training to help him maximize his potential. He receives transportation to and from the SPD Ability Centre daily and today, Benson is a full-fledged member of the SPD Web Design Team, providing web design services commercially.

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is a traumatic event which can drastically affect a person’s life. Yet, as in Benson’s case, reintegration into society is possible given the right support and care. Yet there are many who remain unaware of the services and resources available to them, and so are unable to re-integrate successfully.

To increase awareness of the resources and services available in the community for SCI survivors, The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) and the Tetraplegia Workgroup are coming together to organize the ‘Re-Integration: Let’s Make It Happen’ Workshop. The half-day programme to be held on 26 February also aims to serve as a platform for the acute healthcare and community-based service providers to come together and work collaboratively, so as to create a seamless flow of services for SCI survivors from acute care to community care.

The Workshop will bring together SCI survivors, caregivers, healthcare professionals and support staff from the hospitals and voluntary welfare organizations. Topics covered include use of Assistive Technology, legal claims, community resources, employment, rehabilitation, nutrition, caregiver’s role, psychosocial adjustment and sexuality issues. The Workshop is supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Step-down facilities like community-based service centres can do much to improve the quality of life for SCI survivors and other people with physical disabilities. Such centres offer services that address varied needs like employment, training and assessment and consultation in assistive technology, areas which hospitals do not provide.

Acute care hospitals often face a high demand for their services which translates to long waiting time for the patient. Community-based service centres like SPD can provide adequate care and help to cut down waiting time for patients, while at the same time lightening the load of acute care hospitals today.

“Community-based service centres can play a big part in the rehabilitation of those with disabilities. The synergy between community-based service centres and healthcare organizations can work to increase the chances of reintegration for people with physical disabilities and improve their quality of life. Recognising the importance of collaboration with other organizations, SPD is also participating in the National Road Safety Exhibition and Rally this weekend at Ngee Ann City so that more services can be made known to help people with physical disabilities,” said Dr Ow Chee Chung, Executive Director of SPD.