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Caring to the End

Wen Yang (in the middle) with the palliative care team at OCH

At the palliative ward at Outram Community Hospital (OCH), the care team saw the undying love between two souls and helped them in their journey with the Advance Care Planning.

By now, Mdm C's funeral would have already ended. It has been three days since she passed on.

And up till today, Medical Social Worker (MSW) Goei Wen Yang wonders how Mdm C's faithful husband copes with the lost. He can still recall the love that the couple had shown during their stay in OCH. 

Wen Yang has been a part of Mdm C's care team since her admission, and was the point of contact for her caregiver husband.

He was touched at their love for each other – and it reminded him of the wedding vows – to be together in sickness and in health.

Wen Yang also remembers vividly the card done by Mdm C for her husband.

The colorful decorated card was her last gift to him and in it, has the most beautiful words of appreciation and seeking of forgiveness. 

Her Legacy
Mdm C was suffering from a condition that triggered her to develop a lot of phlegm and left her breathless even with the lightest activity.

Because of this, she was constantly on oxygen therapy and sometimes was too breathless to even come out of bed.

Despite her symptoms, she remained cheerful to the people around her, especially to the healthcare staff and her family members.

Amongst her loved ones, Mdm C was closest to her husband who visited her daily without exception.

They would engage in meaningful conversations interspersed with peals of laughter, and people around them would wonder why they never run out of things to say to each other.

And sometimes, they would just enjoy each other's presence, without any words.

But like any other relationship there would be at times of misunderstanding between both of them, or when Mdm C became temperamental due to her condition.

Despite this, her husband remained calm and stayed by her side throughout. It was a test of dedication that he passed with flying colours. 

Their daily routine went on for a while until Mdm C expressed her wish to pass away at home. This caused her husband to worry about the potential difficulties in coping with her care and symptoms as the sole caregiver.

He was also uncertain of what equipment was needed to support her when she returned home.

"Although Mdm C's husband was apprehensive, he saw this as fulfilling her last wish and decided to undergo caregiver training to help him be more competent," shared Wen Yang.

The care team then planned and conducted caregiver training with Mdm C's husband to equip him with the necessary skills to care for her such as bathing and serving medication. The team also made referrals to the home hospice services to support Mdm C and her husband while they were at home.

To capture their last memories together, the care team also organised a photo shoot for the couple and the photographs was used for the card that Mdm C made for her husband with the help of the therapist.

It was her way of showing her appreciation towards him for his patience and care.

On 16 July 2021, she was brought home where she eventually passed away.

Planning at an Early Stage
In the palliative ward, the care team journeys with the patients and caregivers till the very end.

Advance Care Planning (ACP) discussions allow the patients, their caregivers and also the care team to have a smoother and better understanding of the care desired by a patient.

If started early, ACP enables patients to discuss their personal beliefs, values and goals of care with their loved ones and healthcare providers in order to plan for future healthcare options.

"We are glad that we could communicate with Mdm C and her family at an initial stage to understand their care preference," said Wen Yang.

And on top of that, the most important thing was to fulfil Mdm C's last wish.