Youth Homes activities keep residents' spirits up amid Covid-19
For almost two months, residents at the Singapore Girls’ Home (SGH) and Singapore Boys’ Home (SBH) were unable to receive face-to-face parent visits due to circuit breaker precautionary measuresput in place to minimise importation risk.
Programmes like group sports and dance lessons conducted by external service providers had to be put on hold temporarily too.
Feeling frustrated, this led to some residents at SGH - who are between 10 and 19 years old - acting out.
For instance, several began to show signs of distress.
Senior youth guidance officer (YGO) Justina Chan told The New Paper: “Some of the girls were talking back to the staff, but I recognised this was because of their disappointment that the visits had to be ceased.”
Once, a resident got upset with a staff member after being told her parent visits and home leave would be suspended due to the Covid-19 restrictions, she said.
“It took a while for her to regulate her emotions,” added Ms Chan, who then arranged a video call with her family instead.
Another senior YGO, Mr Muhamad Nur from SBH, which provides care and support for troubled boys aged 10 to 19, said although he didn’t observe an increase in behavioural issues among the boys, they too were dejected by the no-visitors rule.
As such, Ms Chan and Mr Nur said adjustments had to be made to help the residents pass time.
Mr Nur said: “We were also responsible for keeping them updated on the Covid-19 situation, so they could understand why some rules, like not having their parents visit them temporarily, were necessary.”
Ms Chan added: “We had to step up, and made it a point to conduct programmes, like having regular check-in sessions, to help them open up and get in touch with their feelings.”
Meaningful activities like weekly themed games, movie therapy, circle-time (dorm check-ins) and making TikTok videos were initiated by the YGOs.
Other activities included creative avenues of expression like writing lyrics and visual art.
The residents also had a chance to pen appreciation messages for frontline workers fighting Covid-19.
Ms Chan said: “Over time, they saw we were working hard for them. We were putting in 12-hour shifts and spending more time and interacting with them to help them cope.”
During phase two of Singapore’s reopening from June 19, residents at both homes can have two related visitors visiting them at once, compared to only one family member previously in phase one.
Home leave also resumed on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Nur said: “When parents came down to visit the residents, it was like a joyous reunion. But they understood the importance of social distancing measures and restrained from giving hugs.”