ABLE’s staff and clients participating in a “tele-respite”, a music and art therapy session conducted online. Photos: ABLE

Appeals for support for its fund-raising Virtual Pilates 

ABLE, a member of Caritas, the social mission arm of the Catholic Archdiocese, is not going to abandon its holistic suite of services to support persons with disabilities and their caregivers. These services range from rehabilitation and training, respite care to wheelchair accessible transport.

ABLE had to close it centres when the subsequent circuit breaker measures kicked in, and this prompted its team to think creatively how to keep their services going. They decided to turn to tele- and video-conferencing tools to keep up their rehabilitation therapy, music therapy and art therapy for the clients, as well as to give care and support for their family caregivers.

Tele-Rehabilitation

The challenges that ABLE faced were unprecedent. During the initial phase of the circuit breaker, rehabilitation was classified as a non-essential service. But the clients need to continue with their therapy. ABLE evaluated several video-conferencing platforms and settled on Microsoft Teams. Through video conferencing ABLE’s therapists were able to provide virtual rehabilitation for its beneficiaries.

To minimise disruption to its clients’ rehabilitation journey, the Tele-Rehabilitation services were started and more than 250 sessions were conducted in April and May. It was the first time in his history that ABLE was providing virtual physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and employment support. The therapists had to improvise at times by helping their clients to find whatever objects available within their homes for the rehabilitation sessions.

But video consultations have its limitations, especially for some patients who suffer from certain medical conditions which require face-to-face rehabilitation services. Fortunately, in the later phase of the circuit breaker, the Ministry of Health re-classified rehabilitation and therapy as one of the essential services, albeit with safe distancing measures in place.

Tele-Respite

Another challenge often overlooked is the mental wellbeing of not just the physically-challenged persons, but also their caregivers. Everyone was experiencing anxiety, stress and duress during uncertain and challenging times.

With the closure of ABLE’s Centres, its Respite team immediately packed and delivered individual care packages to clients with disabilities. These care packages included musical instruments and art materials for clients to harness music and art as therapy during these stressful times.

Music therapy and art therapy are able to provide a sense of normalcy for people who may not have opportunities for social interaction. ABLE has been conducting music and art therapy sessions online to help beneficiaries express themselves and deal with difficult emotions. They are also facilitating virtual volunteer-led befriending sessions to help beneficiaries stay connected to the community.

Tele-Kopi

Caregivers are often side-lined in a rehabilitation programme even though they play a critical role in maintaining loving and dedicated care for their loved ones who are facing debilitating situations. ABLE recognises the severe impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the mental well-being of both the physically-challenged persons and their caregivers. The caregivers may experience increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation during this time.

Hence, the “Tele-Kopi” programme was launched as a structured support group which provides caregivers with the opportunity to share their challenges with each other. This programme serves as a structured support group.

A caregiver, Mrs Jane Koe said, “Caregivers like myself appreciate the support given by ABLE. Through our participation in the ‘Tele-Kopi’ sessions, we get to connect with other caregivers and share our experiences in looking after our care recipients. Hearing the real-life stories shared by other caregivers gives us a sense of comfort and strength.”

Continuing support

ABLE also helps to ease the mobility challenges faced by those with disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible transport to shuttle them from their homes to ABLE at reasonable rates. Transport services are also available for private hire for outings, medical appointments and workplace requirements.

During the circuit breaker period, ABLE continued to help clients with disabilities commute to their dialysis appointments. After the resumption of ABLE’s on-site operations at a reduced capacity, transport services are provided for clients who need to commute to ABLE for centre-based services.

Virtual Pilates for a good cause.

Virtual Pilates

Since February 2020, ABLE’s service income and donations received have reduced due to the Covid-19 outbreak. To address this, ABLE is moving its engagement and activities online to stay connected with the community.

ABLE is hosting an inclusive Virtual Pilates class on Zoom, together with The Moving Body, a leading pilates studio that provides pro-bono pilates therapy for ABLE’s clients with disabilities. In this interactive session, Audrey D’Cotta, Founder of The Moving Body, will lead a 45-minute set of breathing and mobility exercises that you can do anywhere and anytime.

In celebration of ABLE’s resilient community, Audrey will be joined on screen by ABLE’s client-ambassador and stroke survivor, Madam Soh. The exercises require that you have upper body mobility. Apart from that, this event is for persons with disabilities, young children and the elderly. Whether you are 8 or 80 years old, you are welcome to join this one-of-a-kind virtual pilates event.

Tickets are at $20 per person and the proceeds and donations will help ABLE continue supporting persons with disabilities and their caregivers.

To register, please visit bit.ly/able-virtualpilates. For more information, please email [email protected]

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