Home Care Services
Reaching Out to the Sick in their Homes
In order to allow more elderly residents to spend their golden years in the comfort of their own homes, Tzu Chi Singapore developed a patient-centred, integrated healthcare model, by consolidating its existing healthcare staff and volunteers, to provide well-coordinated, seamless services to homebound (mostly elderly) patients. As home medical care services gradually gained attention over time, the Foundation decided to expand its home care services in 2014, thus bringing to life Master Cheng Yen’s hope of reaching out to the sick who are unable to go out and seek medical help.
Since more than 10 years ago, TIMA Singapore’s medical volunteers have started conducting medical home visits to the homes of Tzu Chi’s aid beneficiaries who were homebound due to illnesses. With the expansion of the local Mission of Medicine, the medical team discovered the alarming increase in demand for home medical services. Thus, Tzu Chi took the initiative to contact the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), to discuss how they might work together to provide home healthcare services for needy and sick residents. Subsequently, from 2014 to 2017, the “Tzu Chi Home Care Services” programme was implemented to serve the underprivileged homebound patients referred by the AIC.
Tzu Chi Home Care Services include the provision of medical and nursing care as well as rehabilitation services in the homes of the patients. The services include indwelling urinary catheter care, change of nasogastric tube, care of artificial stoma, change of dressing, checking and sorting medications, etc. Members of the Home Care team also seek to understand the patients’ family backgrounds, home environment, and even their mental and emotional health, in order to adjust the level of care according to each individual’s needs.
Family members are often the ones closest to the patients, to provide personal care for them. Hence, the Home Care team will also train and counsel the patients’ family members on appropriate nursing and home care skills. Friendships are built over time between the team members and the patients and their families, through the small gestures of love and care. The warmth and comfort of the team’s companionship as well as their provision of additional services, such as home cleaning and application for financial assistance (for needy households), allow the patients to recuperate in the peace and comfort of their own homes and also help allay the concerns of their loved ones.
Bags of Pills Pinned on the Wall
80-plus-year-old Grandpa Lin suffers from an assortment of physical ailments and chronic conditions, including the loss of hearing, blindness in one eye, mild dementia and liver cirrhosis. He uses simple sign language and words to communicate with others, and it can be daunting at times as he lives alone. He needs to take up to five different types of medicine daily; however, as his memory is failing, the Tzu Chi Home Care team created an ingenious way to remind him to take his daily medications. They wrote medication reminders and pasted them on a wall in his flat, and even packed his daily medications into little bags and pinned them against the reminders. Their empathy and loving, patient care have warmed the heart of the elderly patient.
The Will to Live
At the prime of his life, Ee Hun Chong was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease with rapid muscular atrophy. Within three years after the initial onset, his condition deteriorated very rapidly, to the point that he could not even speak and take care of his daily needs. Tzu Chi’s Home Care Services team stepped in and provided him with supplies of liquid nutritional formula and weekly physiotherapy, as well as helped him to obtain a breathing aid, an adjustable reclining bed, and a blood pressure monitor. With a strong will to live, Ee bravely maintained a positive outlook on life without self-pity and worked hard at physiotherapy. One year later, he was finally able to walk out of his home with support. At the Tzu Chi Year End Blessing Ceremony in January 2017, he appeared on the stage to share his testimony and to express deep gratitude to Tzu Chi, with the help of the event’s emcee, garnering the audience’s thunderous applause and loud cheers for his courage.
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