With her children in their teens, Shuit Leng (in photo, 2nd from right) decided to return to the embrace of care. This time not as a hospital nurse but as a Homage Care Professional.
She shares her thoughts on the differences in the roles, her experiences as a Care Pro and her learnings from her care journey.
Finding my role in care
My first semi-formal introduction to the line of care was during my school years, as a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade. However, what really nudged me to the vocation of care started with a simple conversation. My then-supervisor asked about my future plans when I was a part-time retail staff. He suggested nursing as I was formerly a member of a first-aid related co-curricular activity (CCA).
As fate would have it, after that conversation, I unintentionally stumbled upon a nurse recruitment ad. Without hesitation, I signed up, was accepted into nursing school and the rest was history. Post training, I worked as a hospital nurse at National University Hospital (NUH).
Watching patients under my care recover gave me immense satisfaction and that was when I found purpose in my work. I have always enjoyed the brief conversations with my patients and wished that I had the opportunity to get to know them better as individuals. The personalisation of care was always at the back of my mind because I believe that holistic care goes beyond physical recovery.
Balancing passion with family life
The lack of flexibility and time in the nursing profession meant that I always had to find a balance between my passion and personal life. When I became a mother, it became even harder to balance that and I had to take a pause in my career.
Caring for my newborn shifted to top priority. I wanted to be present in their growing years and it was difficult to balance my long hours at work and my responsibilities as a mother.
Stumbling into personalised care
In 2015, my father was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and had a lower knee amputation the following year. We were heartbroken to see him go through the pain and I felt I could have done more and educated my parents on proper wound care.
That was when I took on the role as his primary caregiver. Caring for dad meant being his personal dietitian, nurse and medical escort to his doctor’s appointment. A diabetic-friendly diet, constant monitoring of his skin to prevent any wounds and minimising the risks of infection are all part and parcel of his care.
Deep down, I have always known that my profession lies in the healthcare sector but I certainly did not expect it to be my lifelong calling!. It was only till years later when my children are able to fend for themselves, that it was time for me to have a career once more. With that in mind, I began my job hunt. While searching through positions available, it dawned on me all the roles I showed interest in were healthcare-related roles.
Homage was one such role which I chanced upon during the online job search. With my informal experience as my father’s caregiver, I took a leap of faith and applied for the job.
Bringing care home
I officially became a Homage Care Pro in 2018. Being a professional caregiver is very much like being a family caregiver; but with the know-how on care delivery when faced with different personalities and in varying care settings. It is important to understand that care is unique to every individual.
My previous stint as a NUH hospital nurse exposed me to various medical situations and health conditions. It also taught me the corresponding effects these have on patients admitted. Such experience gave me an edge and it also helped to further reassure families that their loved ones are in safe hands.
In a home care setting, it is rather dissimilar to that of a hospital’s. Care provided at home is much more personalised as it is on a one-to-one basis where I can dedicate my full attention to care for the individual. I was able to better understand and build rapport with persons I have cared for and their families. Furthermore, home care provides the care recipients an option to recuperate in a place they are most familiar and comfortable in, their own homes.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to help seniors recover and bring cheer to them once more. Listening to their stories and interacting with them enrich me. I truly enjoy every moment of care delivery and nothing humbles me more than when families I have cared for request for me a second time.
Most of the time, the seniors’ wishes are simple. What they really need is simply someone to be there for them, to keep them company and chase away the loneliness. I encourage everyone to spend some time with a senior or your loved one, lend them your listening ear and be by their side to support them. Your effort will brighten their lives.