NKF launches programme to help patients to find jobs that fit dialysis schedules

Patients of NKF performing at the launch of the NKF Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme on Nov 24, 2015.
Patients of NKF performing at the launch of the NKF Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme on Nov 24, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) launched a programme on Tuesday to help patients with kidney failure to find jobs that can accommodate their thrice weekly dialysis schedules.

The Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme, sponsored by a $2.3m grant from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, aims to find suitable jobs for unemployed patients both within NKF and with other employers.

The programme aims to have 50 patients employed by NKF by the end of 2016, and 120 by the end of its third year in specially created positions such as patient relations officers and exercise specialists. It also provides career guidance and job matching services through collaborations with external employers.

Said NKF chief executive officer Edmund Kwok: "We're looking at it as rehab because when patients start to work they gain a lot of dignity and self-worth. And what better way than to have patients look after patients."

"So I think we should set the example, if we want people to employ our patients then we should show them that they can work."

The launch event, held at the NKF Centre, hosted a job fair attended by companies such as Cheers and Agora Recruitment Agency.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin also presented Courage Awards to six patients with long service to their companies and Extraordinary Employer Awards to their employers, which included DBS Bank and the National Environment Agency.

Mr Tan Eu Cheng, who had to quit his job as a taxi driver after his kidney failure two years ago left him often feeling unwell, said that he found it hard to find another job.

The 59-year-old, whose wife works as a cleaner, said that he gave up his job search after he went for four to five interviews and was turned down each time.

"I tell them I got kidney failure and need dialysis. Once they hear this they stop asking questions," he said.

Now, he works as a patient relations officer at the NKF's Serangoon dialysis centre, where he tends to patients, oversees cleanliness and does administrative work.

"I learn a lot from the other patients, because I'm a new patient myself," he said.

"Even though we are suffering from this disease, we can still do good jobs."

tiffanyt@sph.com.sg