Caring for a loved one who is sick can be stressful and overwhelming.
Besides the physical tasks which caregivers have to juggle with simultaneously – from monitoring their medical conditions, to helping them with dressing up and toileting, as well as managing their medical appointments and finances, caregivers are also expected to provide a listening ear and be that emotional support for their loved ones who are battling with the illness itself.
During these challenging times, having the right support can make a big difference to their caregiving journey, and this is where our care team at SCH can step in to provide the much needed assistance and alleviate their stress.
Repaying their father’s loveSandy Koh, Medical Social Worker (MSW) at OCH recalled a memorable experience when the care team assisted two young sisters in caring for their ailing father who was suffering from colon cancer.
Being first-time caregivers who were also working full time, the two sisters struggled at the beginning. They had to make sure that their father was taking his medication on time and spent a lot of time on his wound care, while having to cope with the demands at work simultaneously.
Despite the challenges faced, the two sisters persevered on, determined to repay their father’s love and the sacrifices he has made for them growing up. Their father was subsequently admitted to OCH’s palliative ward earlier this year when his illness progressed.
Recognising that the sisters were experiencing a great amount of stress in tending to their father’s needs, the OCH palliative care team made sure to provide all the help that they could so that the sisters do not feel alone in their daunting caregiving journey.
"Apart from providing medical advice, we encouraged the sisters not to neglect their own wellbeing, such as reminding them to take short breaks in between their caregiving duties, so that they can continue to be well and able to look after their father," shared Sandy.
When their father eventually passed on, the sisters expressed their gratitude to the care team for supporting them through the difficult period.
"We are grateful that the care team at OCH provided a listening ear for us to pour out our feelings while caring for our father. I remember their reassuring advice following many tearful sessions," said one of the sisters.
Caring for the caregiver
Whether it is helping caregivers to avoid burnout, providing them with physical support or financial assistance, looking out for their wellbeing is vital to ensure that both patients and caregivers are prepared for the journey ahead.
At SCH, there are many ways which our care team provides support to our caregivers, one of which is by conducting caregiver training. Through these sessions, caregivers will be able to adopt various skillsets such as helping their loved ones with activities of daily living and managing their medication regime which is often a complex one."Hands-on training not only gives caregivers the confidence to continue caring for their loved ones, it also gives our patients the assurance that their caregivers are equipped with the necessary skillsets to look after them," said Sandy. When needed, the care team also helps to facilitate conversations on the patient’s care preferences and arrangements with their caregivers, or connect caregivers with the necessary resources in the community. "Caregiving is no easy feat. It requires strength and determination, and we are glad that we can be that pillar for caregivers during their difficult times to help make their caregiving journey a fulfilling and meaningful one,’ added Staff Nurse Abriam Jun Navidad, who is also part of the OCH palliative care team.
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