Our Major Operating Theatres colleagues fielded 15 teams, the largest contingent in this year’s GroomOver project. What made them sign up in droves?

Helping those who cannot help themselves 

Newbie Operating Theatre Technician Associate, Ian Bhreen Manaois, got to know his colleagues better when he took part in project GroomOver on 1 April 2023. Says his leader for the day, Senior Nurse Manager Jeraymin Yong, “Ian joined us recently it was my first time meeting him. There are over 400 staff at Major Operating Theatres (MOT) so we may not get to meet everyone – especially the newbies. It was good to be able to interact with him on a deeper level.”

For Jeraymin, it’s her fourth time doing GroomOver and she keeps coming back for more. Shares Jeraymin, “The residents are needy elderly who have no one to care for them. They live in very bad conditions - sometimes the homes are so dirty that I don’t even know where to begin. After the home has been cleaned, I see a big smile on their faces and I just feel so happy.”

 (Back row, from left) OT Technician Associate Ian Bhreen Manaois, OT Technician Randall Argente Romanes, NC Tan Shi Wei, SSN Fang Tangwu. (Front row, from left) NC Boh Tuan Boy, SNM Jeraymin Yong, Mdm Ah Phong

This year, Jeraymin and her team helped 87-year-old Mdm Ah Phong clean her cluttered 1-room Bukit Merah View rental flat.  The former cleaner is all alone with no family as her husband passed away 20 years ago. Mdm Ah Phong also has dementia, and difficulty walking due to weak legs. As such, she cannot do housework. A kind neighbour, Mdm Doh, helps her with that, as well as her daily needs such as bathing, changing her diaper and clothes, and feeding. Jeraymin’s team also worked with Mdm Doh on all arrangements to clean Mdm Ah Phong’s home.


For five hours on a Saturday morning, Jeraymin and six spruced up Mdm Ah Phong’s home including mopping the floor, wiping the windows and dirty grills, and giving the kitchen sink and wall tiles a good scrub. 

Mdm Ah Phong also received a new wardrobe from SGH, bought with funds raised for this outreach project. Says Jeraymin, “When we visited Mdm Ah Phong two weeks ago, we saw that her old wardrobe was falling apart. Mdm Doh told us that a few months ago, one of the doors nearly fell on Mdm Ah Phong.” 

So how does Mdm Ah Phong feel about her spruced up flat? “Mdm Doh said that Mdm Ah Phong is very happy that her house is so neat and tidy now. And she loves her new wardrobe,” beams Jeraymin.

As part of Groomover, the residents are given some items of necessity, such as a simple new wardrobe for Mdm Ah Phong.

GroomOver also gave Jeraymin and her colleagues, from the orthopaedic discipline in MOT, a chance to bond. Says Jeraymin, “After we finished cleaning the flat, we had a mini gathering at the hawker centre below. Over some char kway teow, lor mee and kopi-C, we caught up. That was our first meal together since the pandemic. We used to go for BBQs at chalets but had been unable to gather for the past three years due to COVID-19.”


Decluttering to bring joy to another

“Getting rid of the bedframe (which was damaged), gave us great satisfaction as it was on Mr Lim’s wish list,” said SSN Kristelle Lee, the team leader of the group of eight MOT nurses who gave a “makeover’ to Mr Lim Puay Pak’s rented flat in North Bridge Road.   

The removal of the bulky bedframe allowed the team more space to work with in the cramped HDB unit - something that concerned SSN Lim Ming Fong before their task even began. “When Kristelle and I visited him a few weeks ago, his home was very cluttered and we were worried how the eight of us were going to move around inside, let alone tidy up and clean,” said SSN Tin Yi. “But to our surprise, Mr Lim actually cleaned up quite a bit before we arrived today and that allowed us to do our job.”
From left) SSN Nur Liyana Mazlan, SSN Lim Ming Fong, SN Shawnee Rose, SN Faye Isabelle, SN Emmanuelle Validor, SSN Kristelle, SN Joanne Anaya, SSN Tin Yi

The nurses were greeted by a sprightly Mr Lim, who is in his mid-70’s, when they arrived. Dressed casually in a T-shirt and shorts, with a Buddhist pendant hanging from his neck, His cheerful demeanor and a full head of black hair made him look younger than he actually is. 

After they further decluttered Mr Lim’s flat, the MOT nurses immediately got down to work, swapping sanitisers for paint, as they applied a coat of white over the grey walls. Others were sweeping, and wiping the dust off the various items in the house, ranging from a framed photo of Mr Lim’s deceased mother, to Buddhist figurines of different sizes. “One of the challenges we had was how to navigate around the numerous ceramic Buddhist figurines that were placed all over the 1-room flat. Fortunately, we were very careful and didn’t break any of them!” recalled SSN Kristelle. 

Mr Lim said he has been a devout Buddhist and vegetarian for more than 30 years. He will travel almost every day, without fail, to a temple not far from his home to pray. This gives him piece of mind. Even though he seems healthy and active, at his age, Mr Lim still needs his daily dose of medications. “We realized that his medications were scattered all over the house. Some of them had expired so we helped him to throw them out and arrange his current ones to his liking”, said, SN Joanne Anaya.

The team also helped to paint Mr Lim’s gate, changed his bedsheets and even cleaned the toilet. And it was all done in good spirits, with music playing in the background. “We were just looking out for one another. Although I was the team leader, we divided the work very democratically.  There were no arguments, for example, no one said that they didn’t want to do a specific task. We were all very enthusiastic,” said team leader SSS Kristelle.

The results were evident, judging from the five bags of rubbish that they managed to clear from the flat. The house also had a “groomed over” look after the end of nearly 3 hours of hard work from the team. But it was all worth it.

“Our favourite moment was seeing the smile on the uncle’s face after we were done cleaning the house. It also touched our hearts how he kept offering us snacks to bring home!”, said SSN Kristelle and her team of MOT nurses. 

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