That was Wee Han’s motivation to make a drastic career switch—from a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officer to a freelance caregiver—at the prime of his life, when he was 31 years old.
“When my contract with SAF ended, I was looking to go into the healthcare space but I didn’t have the right work experience to do so. When I saw an opening at Homage, I decided to join as a caregiver in December last year.”
Source: Leonard Leong | TODAY Online
“Going into healthcare was a personal touch for me. My parents were diagnosed with cancer at different points of time in my life. My mum was diagnosed with cancer when I was in Secondary 3, and my dad was diagnosed when I was in year 3 of university,” said Wee Han.
“My brother and I had to go through the process of caring for our parents twice,” he added.
It was through caring for both his parents that Wee Han came to realise the importance of caring for patients after their illnesses, and how such a crucial aspect of healthcare is often overlooked by many. He decided to give up his stable job with employee benefits to enter the healthcare industry as a freelance caregiver. Aside from helping his father, Wee Han hopes to be there for families in need of crucial care support, and seeks to share his knowledge and guide other families who are in a similar situation as him.
Wee Han’s ‘Why’
While Wee Han learnt early in his years that caregiving was essential, his biggest push to join the healthcare industry happened only this year.
During the time when his father was hospitalised due to cancer, his father had insisted on being discharged from step-down care in a community hospital, as he did not want to spend his time there.
Although the doctors agreed with his father’s wishes, Wee Han deeply disapproved of the move.
For one, there wasn’t anyone at home qualified enough to help his father with his rehabilitive needs. There was also no proper infrastructure or equipment at home to fully support his father and ensure his safety.
“When my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I had to go through this process again, I remember still feeling unprepared,” said Wee Han. “This really struck a chord in me. Imagine families who have to experience this for the first time. They will be at a loss of what to do when their loved one is discharged from the hospital.”
Wee Han felt lost and helpless then. This feeling drove him to apply as a Care Professional with Homage, where he can not only assist care recipients with activities of daily living, but also provide their families with tips to prepare for their loved ones’ discharge. Such tips include what areas families should look out for in case of fall risk, as well as how to spot signs of recovery or deterioration in patients.
No regrets switching careers
Although Wee Han had to trade in some job stability to be a full-time freelance caregiver, he has absolutely no regrets when it comes to his career switch.
“Homage provides diversity in terms of patient profiles. This is something really unique and enriching for Care Professionals like myself, who want to experience a diverse range of profiles and scenarios when it comes to caregiving,” said Wee Han.
With Homage’s diverse patient profiles, Wee Han had the opportunity to meet different patients in just a few months as a Care Professional. Being able to get to know and help people from all walks of life, Wee Han feels that his caregiving job is very enriching and one-of-a-kind. He finds motivation in his ability to make an impact in people’s lives.
“At the end of the day, it’s the simple ‘thank you’ you hear at the end of your visit that makes this job so rewarding,” said Wee Han.
Before embarking on this new career, Wee Han expected himself to feel discouraged after seeing many terminal patients. However, this aspect of the job turned out to be fuel that keeps Wee Han motivated. He was even more determined to step in to help his patients and families by giving useful advice and assistance.
The career transition from a military man to a caregiver was a relatively easy one for Wee Han. Appropriate training was provided by Homage, where he learnt necessary skills such as the proper way of wearing a diaper, how to use a commode, and how to help an elderly patient shower. His prior experience taking care of his parents also gave him an advantage, and he was able to pick up the skills he needed at a faster pace.
As a freelancer, Wee Han is also not bound to fixed hours and job scopes. He can choose the assignments he would like to take on, and work at his own comfortable pace.
Not all a bed of roses
Having said that, Wee Han did meet his share of challenges in his transition to become a Care Professional initially.
Due to the freelance nature of the job, he found himself spending a lot of time working. While the pay was rewarding, Wee Han was ambitious in taking up assignments, and the long hours had sometimes taken a toll on him.
This is especially so as he travels via public transport and does 12-hour night surveillance visits at times. His long working hours led to his family worrying about his health. Since then, he has learnt to manage his time and schedule better to accommodate more time for himself to rest.
Another aspect of the job that Wee Han had to get used to was the last-minute cancellations. It is fairly common for his patients to cancel appointments abruptly, mainly because they were suddenly hospitalised.
Facing this, Wee Han finds that it is crucial to be flexible and adaptable as a freelance caregiver. He also points out that Homage is very supportive when such instances occur. Its operations team will quickly push out tasks that are not taken up yet, so Wee Han can make last-minute adjustments to his work schedule.
Tips for potential caregivers
Every job has its pros and cons. While being a Care Professional may not be exactly a walk in the park, it can be a very purposeful and highly fulfilling career.
If you are looking to give freelance caregiving a try, here are 7 tips that Wee Han would like to share with you:
- Time management is key if you want to be a full-time freelancer.
- As it is a freelance job, you have the responsibility to liaise with your different patients and manage your assignments.
- The difficulty of the job depends on how open-minded you are. It’s always about adjusting your mindset. Carry out your tasks as sincerely and wholeheartedly as you can, and learn as you go.
- Be prepared for last-minute cancellations and be accommodating to changes in your schedule.
- Exercise fluidity. There is no fixed job scope for each assignment. Every job and patient is different.
- Tailor your methods to the needs of your patients. For example, Wee Han makes things easier for his patients with dementia by being more memorable. He gives himself an easy name to call, and always wears the same outfit so his patients can remember and recognise him better.
- Learn how the previous caregiver or other professionals solve challenges you face. Start by duplicating that method, and then gradually find your own style and improvise on the solution.
Join Wee Han to be a Freelance Care Professional
Everyone can be a Care Professional with Homage (yes, that means you too). While prior caregiving experience may be useful, it is not a hard requirement. You only need to have the passion and dedication to care for others.
In addition, when you are a caregiver at Homage, you get to enjoy great benefits. These include flexible work hours, subsidised training, insurance coverage, attractive earnings, and exposure to caregiving across a variety of settings including day care centres, nursing homes and hospitals. Most importantly, Homage also provides a supporting community of caregivers whom you can learn from and be inspired by.