By: Ms Prassanna Raman,  
Research Assistant, Program in Health Services and Systems Research

Soap suds, shiny cars, and Bingo – the Program in Health Services and Systems Research (HSSR) retreat had it all. 

The HSSR program organizes different events each year to encourage staff and faculty members to engage in meaningful and stimulating activities outside of work. This year’s retreat, which took place on March 1, was designed to enhance team bonding and promote community engagement 

The day started off early with a charity car wash event at Duke-NUS, a challenge undertaken by HSSR for the Duke-NUS Annual Giving Campaign. The adopted cause was to raise funds for the school’s community service projects. Armed with buckets and heavy-duty sponges, everyone dived enthusiastically into their duties as cars entered the parking premises. Fantastic collaboration and teamwork were clearly the hallmark of the event. We collected close to $500 within 3 hours.  

The next stop: A visit to St. Hilda’s Community Services Center in Tanjong Rhu

At St Hilda’s, which was our next stop, we spent time with the elderly residents and participated in their bi-weekly activities. The lively games of Bingo and Hi-Lo culminated with the distribution of prizes to the winners. The team also served the residents lunch, and continued the day with other informal games. The group was especially touched when the residents performed a song item as a gesture of their appreciation.

The volunteer team at St. Hilda’s is dedicated to the health and well-being of the elderly residents who live in adjacent flats. Together with hospitals and other welfare organizations, St. Hilda’s works to fortify social support networks between older people and provide health screenings and community exercise programs for them. Given HSSR’s focus on ageing and long-term care issues, visiting the community center helped deepen the team’s first-hand knowledge of community services available to the elderly in Singapore. 

HSSR is grateful for the opportunity to engage with the community and bond with one another at this unconventional retreat. Working in different groups and overcoming the language barriers at St. Hilda’s helped to form new friendships at work and strengthen the existing ones. For future retreats, HSSR hopes to make its fundraising efforts open to the public to  support more causes.

We gained valuable learning points through this retreat, and we are energized to resume work on successful ageing issues in Singapore.

Special thanks to Ms Amina Islam, HSSR Senior Manager for planning the program; Associate Professor Angelique Chan for connecting HSSR with St Hilda’s; and most importantly, all HSSR team members for contributing to the success of this event in so many meaningful ways.