Fatin first started caring for her mother when she suffered from a stroke due to a fall. Through this experience, she decided to pick up nursing when she was in school. She’s glad that she was able to find her calling and has supported many other individuals like her mother over the past seven years. Fatin is now a mother of two and a Homage Care Pro.
A student. A caregiver.
There was no warning. One day my mum seemed well, but all of a sudden, she fell and suffered a stroke. The role of caregiving fell on me suddenly, and I was at a loss on what to do. My life transformed overnight, from just a carefree secondary school student to a young caregiver shouldering the burden of balancing school and caring for my mum.
Shuffling between school, home and the hospital became my new normal, especially when mum was recovering. At a younger age, I often struggled to understand what was happening in the hospital ward, when doctors and nurses came by. I would always sit by my mum’s bedside while the nurses attended to her. I was deeply appreciative when the nurses took the effort to help me understand what was happening. They would share caregiving tips with me and the steps to take in supporting mum in her recovery. That truly left a lasting impression on me. Looking back, I realise now that it was those interactions with the nurses that sparked my interest in nursing.
Pursuing my passion to care
When I graduated from secondary school and entered the Institute of Technology (ITE), I decided to pursue post-secondary education in nursing. During my course, I was attached to a hospital for my internship. It was a great opportunity to work directly with patients to deliver care. The experience and bonds forged cemented my resolution to pursue a career in nursing. It inspired me to want to go above and beyond for patients.
In 2012, I started my full-time nursing career in the Oncology wards of the Singapore General Hospital. It was a constant battle for many.
It was difficult to see the daily struggle of many fighting against cancer, but it was even harder to watch those under my care pass on. This took a toll on my emotional stability and crying became my coping mechanism.
It was not until I took the advice of a Sister (Nurse Manager) that I learnt how to manage my emotions properly and things became better.
Putting my career at the backseat to raise a family
My working hours as a nurse consisted of mandatory night shifts twice a month. I was often working through the nights, into the wee hours of the morning. When I met my partner at that time, we decided to have a family. My schedule as a nurse placed a challenge in our lives.
We tried to balance my schedule with planning for a family, but this was tipped when my first pregnancy had complications. To save my child, I had to make the painful decision to part with nursing.
I now have two beautiful daughters. It’s been such a joy watching them grow up and being a part of their formative years. But through the joys of caring for my two daughters, I have never forgotten about my passion for delivering care.
I decided to re-enter the workforce by picking up contracted and part-time opportunities at the hospitals. This allowed me to practice nursing while giving me the flexibility to be there for my daughters as they grow up.
Through these job experiences, I always felt that there was a missing element in making caregiving more holistic. The focus in acute settings was often on treating symptoms and getting patients home as soon as possible; this limited my ability to deliver holistic end-to-end care. I also felt that it was challenging to give personalised and dedicated care, as we were often caring for multiple individuals at any given time. Despite the challenges faced, I firmly believe in personalised care and always strived to build it into my care delivery.
Finding my way to holistic care
One day, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across Homage, a home care provider powered by technology. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel idea and thought it would be convenient if I could plan and coordinate my care visits through my phone.
The one-on-one care setting in the home was a plus for me. This was an opportunity for me to build better rapport with my patients and to tailor personalised care. I decided to join Homage as a Care Pro.
Through my time at Homage, I started to understand what it means to be surrounded by warm people who make work feel like home. There was a lot of support from the team and I was granted more exposure to delivering care in a home setting.
The flexible work schedule with no strings attached meant I was able to channel the extra time and energy to deepening my relationship with my daughters and family without compromising on financial stability.
From strangers to almost family
Care delivery will not always be a bed of roses. There will be challenges, but I have realised that understanding the care needs and varying my caregiving according to an individual is the best way forward.
I remember in one of my visits; I had to care for a senior while her helper returned home for her annual leave. The senior was initially unreceptive to care given by outsiders as she was used to the familiarity of her helper.
I took a while to connect with the senior, helping her understand where I was coming from. Slowly, she opened up, shifting her perception and attitude. “Mama” was my affectionate term for her. The bond we had created over time led to a deep relationship that was formed.
Mama and her family even requested for care after their helper had returned from her leave. I was also invited to have meals with the family when the care visits ended.
When Mama passed on, I said my last goodbye alongside the family. It might have been a solemn occasion, but I was heartened to have walked the journey with her. From strangers to almost family, this transformation never fails to humble and fulfil me.
A mum, wife and caregiver
There will be tough times in life. I have gone through my fair share. At one point, I was struggling with multiple roles and the varied responsibilities of being a mother, a wife, a daughter and a nurse. It was difficult facing strapped finances, caring for two young daughters and managing personal relationships while searching for a career in care which could accommodate all these.
I have learnt that what is important is your response and attitude towards these situations. Always remember that hard times will pass and don’t give up. Treat every hurdle or challenge as something that will make you stronger. Through it all, I have learnt to be honest and sincere in all that I do; whether in managing my commitments or delivering care to others.
I am glad that my perseverance led me to Homage. It fulfilled my dream of care and has allowed me to live my passion while being a part of my daughters’ lives.