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Doing More Together

DrSumayyah.pngDr Sumayyah (second from left) with her team at SKCH

Life is a gift and every single moment should be cherished. Happiness can come in many forms — even as far as giving joy to others.

For Mr Low (not his real name), his life was full of positivity. The Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH) palliative patient remained cheerful despite suffering from metastatic prostate cancer.

“He would greet everyone with a broad and uplifting smile. It always made my day,” said Dr Sumayyah Omar Bintalib, a Staff Registrar treating Mr Low from the SKCH Post- Acute and Continuing Care (PACC) team.

Dr Sumayyah revealed that Mr Low’s smile was contagious too, spreading to help elevate everyone’s mood. He cultivated this liveliness within the hospital and maintained it till the day he was discharged to spend the rest of his days at home.

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Mr Low would keep himself active without fail. He derived joy from reading newspapers, watching television and socialising with other patients, or by simply appreciating the greenery at the Hospital’s garden.

In between all of these activities, Mr Low participated in therapy sessions and attended his specialist appointments at the acute hospital.

“For patients like Mr Low who travel back and forth for appointments every day, ambulance fees are a major concern,” said Dr Sumayyah.

To ease Mr Low’s financial burden, the care team worked together to find alternatives.

Together with the rehab team, they began to provide caregiver training to Mr Low’s son. Within three days, they equipped him with skills on how to transfer Mr Low by vehicle so that he can accompany his father for appointments instead of engaging an ambulance service.

While that was going on, the Medical Social Service (MSS) team assisted Mr Low in fulfilling his wish of spending his remaining days with his wife. Knowing that it is very important to him, the team worked closely with Mr Low to identify possible solutions to make his wish come true.

In the end, the Medical Social Worker helped his family with relevant information to apply for a domestic helper to aid his family members in caring for him when he returned home.

Thanks to the team’s commendable effort, Mr Low’s needs were addressed promptly and he was able to return home after the helper arrived.

“We were filled with joy and satisfaction because we were able to provide appropriate care to Mr Low and fulfil his wish!” said Dr Sumayyah.

The needs of patients suffering from lifethreatening illnesses vary and it is rarelypossible for just one professional to provide adequate care. A support team is required in order to help patients like Mr Low.

“The team often goes beyond the call of duty by offering assistance to patients as some of them might be reluctant to ask for help,” explained Dr Sumayyah.

Family members are also part of the care team. They have a role in caring for the patients, direct their plan of care and take part in any decision making.

It really takes great effort from everyone to achieve a common goal. Palliative patients can benefit as there is cooperation and understanding among the team members.

The quote by the late deaf-blind American author is so apt here: “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much!”

This article was published on Hospice Link June 2020 issue