For Summer 2020, our team worked with Lions Befrienders Service Association (LBSA). Founded in 1995, LBSA strove to provide friendship and care for seniors to age in place with community participation, enabling them to enjoy meaningful and enriching lives. Their vision is to keep Singapore “a nation where every senior is active, healthy and happy”.
LBSA offers five core services:
Here’s a rough summary of each of the five services:
LBSA reaches out to seniors who are at risk of social isolation. Trained befrienders (volunteers) provide social and psycho-emotional support to befriendees (seniors) through weekly home visits. The aim is to help them age in place within the community and alleviate them from loneliness and social isolation.
Senior Activity Centres
LBSA’s SACs aim to improve senior citizens’ quality of life, especially those with financial difficulty. The centres conduct activities and programmes that help seniors in certain neighbourhoods to be physically and mentally alert, keeping them involved with the community.
SAC Cluster Support
LBSA’s Cluster Support programme supports seniors who may be more vulnerable or frail, and have no or weak family support. They collaborate with various social service agencies to closely monitor the well-being of these seniors and design individual care plans for them.
Home Personal Care
LBSA supports vulnerable seniors who require assistance to continue living well at home. Their staff assists the seniors to perform daily activities, such as light housekeeping, maintenance exercises, grocery shopping and vital sign checks. They also provide these seniors with access to help whenever needed.
Senior Group Home
The SGH programme is an assisted living model that reaches out to frail seniors, enabling them to co-reside independently in designated HDB rental flats retrofitted with elder-friendly features. The aim of SGH is to provide comprehensive support to the seniors through services such as meals on wheels, medical escort transport and home nursing.
Prior to Summer 2020, the CVWO system only supported LBSA’s Befriending Services and Senior Activity Centres. During Summer 2020, our team successfully integrated the remaining three programmes into our system, laying a firm groundwork for the batches to come.
Volunteer Management System (VMS) / Volunteer App
Between Summer 2019 and Summer 2020, LBSA contracted an external vendor to build a centralised VMS. This turned out to be a costly decision, as there were now issues with duplicated data and workflows. Information across the two systems had to be manually synced up. And most importantly, this went against LBSA’s vision of a centralised system for all their services.
As such, we were tasked to build a VMS that is connected to the CVWO app database and allows for centralised management of all volunteers, be it befrienders from Befriending Services or centre volunteers from Senior Activity Centres. Our team saw the opportunity to combine this with the existing Befriending Checkcall App, and thus, we built the one-stop LBSA Volunteer App.
Integrate All of LBSA’s Services into the CVWO app
LBSA’s vision for 2020 was to bring everyone onboard to the existing CVWO system. Previously, only two of the five services utilised our application, while data and workflows for the remaining three services were managed via more manual means, e.g. Excel sheets. We were thus tasked to integrate all of these three services into our application, to allow for not just more secure data management, but also easier synchronisation between the different services.
Clear Backlog of Bugs and Feature Requests
As always, LBSA had prepared a list of bugs and feature requests for us to work on between Summer 2019 and 2020. We managed to clear all these issues and left a clean and stable system for the next batch.
The groundwork for this project has been largely laid by the previous teams. What we had to do when we first got started was to familiarise ourselves with the various parts of the codebase, especially since the codebase for LBSA is one of the largest in CVWO.
In the process, we learnt a lot about the various considerations that previous teams have made, as well as certain design patterns that help to make the codebase maintainable. To facilitate this process of familiarisation, we worked on some of the issues the LBSA had consolidated for us.
Development of VMS
Our team then got started with building the VMS. We took the existing Befriending Checkcall React App apart and rebuilt it using the latest libraries and frameworks, such as Redux and Ionic 5. On the backend, we built the supporting systems and interfaces as well, allowing LBSA staff to manage the volunteers and the various types of content on the new Volunteer App.
This process took up the first half of CVWO. Our team conducted frequent requirements analyses and picked up essential skills and technologies along the way, and all these culminated in a smooth and seamless deployment of the LBSA Volunteer App on the ground.
After the VMS was launched, we quickly switched over to working on the integration of the remaining three services, as well as the other bugs and feature requests. This process was not as easy as it seemed, as we had to “rediscover” past requirements and ensure that nothing we changed or built went against any initial considerations. And since the bugs and feature requests touched upon almost every part of the CVWO app, our team had a lot to do.
There was also a need to ensure that all data for the new services was smoothly migrated over. Given that these data were all previously stored in Excel spreadsheets, we faced challenges when it came to data cleanliness and accuracy. This process was not easy, but we took away a lot from it.
- Zhu Hanming (Project Lead, Year 1)
- Wang Luo (Developer, Year 1)
- He XinYue (Developer, Year 1)
- Kwek Min Yih (Developer, Year 1)
- Tan Jin (Developer, Year 1)
It has been a wonderful experience here at CVWO. I am very glad to have had the chance to serve the community and pick up both technical and soft skills at the same time. I’m also really thankful for my teammates, who have all worked hard and helped make this journey fun and enjoyable every step along the way.
– Zhu Hanming
Simply the best opportunity for Year 1 students like me to learn web development skills and industry-standard practices by working on a production-level system.
– Wang Luo
CVWO is a truly eye-opening experience where I learned a lot about web development and also life.
– He XinYue
I am truly grateful for this opportunity to work with such driven and amazing teammates. Through CVWO, I have not only gained experience in many different aspects of web development, but also learnt invaluable lessons about working with clients.
– Kwek Min Yih
CVWO has been a fruitful and meaningful learning experience working with various technologies and I am thankful to have been a part of this programme!
– Tan Jin
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the following people who have been influential and supportive during our project:
- Prof Ben Leong (NUS) for his patient guidance.
- LBSA staff for their cooperation and support throughout the project.
- GIC for their generous support for the programme.