NKF presents awards to seven caring employers of kidney patients

National Kidney Foundation's exercise specialist and dialysis patients leading Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok and other guests in exercises at the inaugural Extraordinary Employer and Courage Awards Ceremony at
National Kidney Foundation's exercise specialist and dialysis patients leading Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok and other guests in exercises at the inaugural Extraordinary Employer and Courage Awards Ceremony at NKF Centre on Monday, Nov 3, 2014. -- ST PHOTO JOANNA SEOW
National Kidney Foundation's exercise specialist and dialysis patients leading Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok and other guests in exercises at the inaugural Extraordinary Employer and Courage Awards Ceremony at
National Kidney Foundation's exercise specialist and dialysis patients leading Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok and other guests in exercises at the inaugural Extraordinary Employer and Courage Awards Ceremony at NKF Centre on Monday, Nov 3, 2014. -- ST PHOTO JOANNA SEOW

SINGAPORE - Seven companies were recognised on Monday for caring for the kidney patients among their employees.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) presented Extraordinary Employer awards to Kentucky Fried Chicken Management, McDonald's Singapore, SIA Engineering Company, Singapore Power, S.K. Rosenbauer, UTC Aerospace Systems and Wing Tai Holdings.

They were lauded for their understanding and care towards their employees who suffer from kidney failure by helping them stay gainfully employed.

Nine employees were also presented Courage Awards for remaining faithful and active in their jobs despite their medical needs.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the awards presentation at the NKF Centre, thanked the employers for exemplifying inclusivity in the workplace, and praised the positive attitudes of the employees.

"As often as three times a week, after undergoing (dialysis) sessions that are up to four hours long, these courageous Singaporeans return to work as if nothing has happened," said Mr Tan.

"They demonstrate strength, perseverance and resolve, valuable qualities in any organisation... For many of us who are able-bodied, it's also an example of how we can view life."

There are over 700 NKF patients who are working, about 400 of whom do so full-time, the organisation said.

NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok said: "When patients find jobs and continue to be part of the workforce, they are able to support their families and give back to society.

"This gives them a sense of self-worth that despite their illness, they are still important contributors to their families and our nation."

The event also marked the first anniversary of NKF's Patient Advocacy Programme, which pairs existing patients with new ones to provide counselling and support.

There are now 129 patient advocates, up from 70 a year ago, and they have helped 780 new patients so far.

One of them is Madam See Poh Suan, 61, who has been on dialysis for 19 years. When she first started the sessions, she was "a bit afraid" as she did not know much about the procedure and how it would affect her. "I hope to help others understand their situation better," she said in Mandarin. "Sometimes you'll feel tired but actually you can continue working like other people."

Madam See said she her bosses and colleagues at McDonald's, where she works in the service crew, have been very understanding. They make sure she does not do heavy duty work.

"I want to continue working as long as I can. It's nice to spend some time with my colleagues rather than staying at home," she said.