Singapore, 29 August 2003 – In April 2002, Haji Zulkarnain bin Solman met with an accident that was to change his life. Formerly a technician with an electronics firm, he suffered head injuries that rendered him paralysed in the left side of his body. Mr Zulkarnain has not worked since.
In the 10 months following his accident, Mr Zulkarnain underwent a few operations. He is now among 100 clients seeking rehabilitation with the SPD-Singapore Power Rehabilitation Centre.
The Centre opened by Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport, on 29 August 2003 helps those just discharged from acute care in hospitals and who are physically disabled after an illness, sustaining a serious injury or from complex medical and surgical conditions. It offers family and caregiver education and training on top of physio, occupational and speech therapy.
The Centre’s opening is in line with the government’s plans to move non-acute care to community-based organisations and the private sector so that more help can be offered to the clients. It provides affordable day rehabilitation services after acute care treatment at hospitals and provides follow-up rehabilitation and support for clients in order to maximize their potential to work and live independently.
At present, most programmes offered by other rehabilitation centres are catered to the elderly. The SPD-Singapore Power Rehabilitation Centre serves the moderately to severely disabled of all ages, as long as they are medically and surgically stable. The programme includes social and vocational elements in order to provide total rehabilitation. This would help equip them to join the workforce once again. The Centre is therefore a welcome addition for the younger set of patients just discharged from hospital and who still require rehabilitation.
Fees are kept affordable and subsidies are given based on the clients’ affordability and household income. On top of this, clients are also eligible for the other services offered by the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). Where necessary, the Centre provides transport with SPD’s fleet of specially-adapted vehicles.
The Centre is managed by SPD and boasts a wide range of rehabilitation equipment sponsored by Singapore Pools (Private) Limited. The operating cost for the first three years will be sponsored by Singapore Power Ltd which has also just launched a volunteer programme involving its staff to provide help to SPD. The staff will be participating in adhoc and regular programmes that will see them assuming the roles of therapy aides and training assistants.
“We are very happy to be able to make our contribution to the disadvantaged in our community through our adopted charity SPD,” says RAdm (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, President of Singapore Power Ltd. “Besides sponsoring the operating cost of the Rehabilitation Centre, we encourage all our staff to volunteer their services there. In that way everyone within the organisation is able to give a part of themselves and therefore feel more meaningfully as a member of an organisation that cares.”
The therapy staff of the Rehabilitation Centre are currently working towards having Mr Zulkarnain rejoin the workforce, if not in open employment at least in sheltered employment. He has also taken on vocational training and enrolled for the National IT Literacy Programme (NITLP) at SPD. He hopes to be back to his normal self again, “like before the accident,” he says.
Adds Mr Koh Nai Teck, President of SPD, “The Society’s objective is to help people like Zulkarnain to resume a normal life as soon as possible. Clients at the rehabilitation centre can access other complementary programmes available at SPD to speed up their integration into society again.”