Young docs visit seniors in their homes

Specialists in training Daniel Hap (right) and Nicole Chen (second from right), together with Prof Nicholas Chew, chat with Madam Ong Kwee Lan, 78, to learn about her daily routine.
Specialists in training Daniel Hap (right) and Nicole Chen (second from right), together with Prof Nicholas Chew, chat with Madam Ong Kwee Lan, 78, to learn about her daily routine.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

It is part of residency training to help them understand the living conditions of patients

For a better grasp of patients in the context of where they live, 125 young doctors from the National Healthcare Group (NHG) spent time with more than 350 senior citizens over two weekends.

"It's really to understand the conditions that patients live with," said NHG's group chief education officer, Associate Professor Nicholas Chew.

The first-ever community training is for doctors starting their residency training as specialists. The young doctors met senior citizens at a community home and senior activity centre, and visited more than 200 flats in Geylang Bahru, Ang Mo Kio and Thomson.

Madam Ong Kwee Lan, 78, who has been hospitalised several times for falls, was visited in her one-room Toa Payoh flat yesterday by Dr Nicole Chen and Dr Daniel Hap, both 27, who asked about her daily routines.

"I was happy they came," she said in Mandarin. "I thought nobody would be interested in visiting me as an old person."

But she was aware the visit was to help the young doctors too. "If they want to learn things, I can help them," she quipped.

Said Dr Chen, who is training in internal medicine: "You see patients in hospitals and clinics every day, but you may not realise what their situation is like at home."

By being aware of this, doctors can pinpoint any help they might need after discharge, said Dr Hap, a trainee orthopaedic surgeon.

Last weekend, the doctors met residents of the Asian Women's Welfare Society Community Home. As Singapore moves to a system of integrated care, understanding the role of community partners is crucial, said Dr Chew: "The old way of thinking about the hospital as the centre of healthcare delivery is gone."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'Young docs visit seniors in their homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe