Forum: Hospice council pleased with changing approach to end-of-life matters

An elderly man goes up the escalator at Ang Mo Kio MRT station on Dec 13, 2018.
An elderly man goes up the escalator at Ang Mo Kio MRT station on Dec 13, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Singapore Hospice Council has in recent years intensified efforts to strengthen public awareness and knowledge of palliative care (More public education on end-of-life planning needed, by Mr Chen Jiaxi, Oct 23).

Palliative care maximises quality of life in the face of life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses, by caring for the "whole person" physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially and spiritually.

The goal is relief from suffering, for both the terminally ill and their loved ones.

Through our nationwide "Live Well. Leave Well." campaigns and community outreach programmes, we have invited Singaporeans to:

• Talk: Start discussing end-of-life matters with loved ones;

• Plan: Build awareness of palliative care and use planning tools such as Advance Care Planning and Lasting Power of Attorney; and

• Act: Make informed choices for complete peace of mind, for themselves and loved ones.

The council has produced a variety of resources, including caregiving tips and support for those overcoming grief after a death. These can be downloaded for free at singaporehospice.org.sg

It is heartening to know that our early community engagement efforts have made a positive impact.

According to a recent Singapore Management University study, 53.3 per cent of Singaporeans, compared with 36 per cent five years ago, indicated that they are comfortable discussing personal end-of-life matters. However, some 6.6 per cent of respondents objected to seeking palliative care, which shows that more still needs to be done.

Other than reaching out to seniors, this year we made an appeal to Singaporeans with a Lend Your Instagram campaign to spread the hospice and palliative care message. The response was pleasantly heart-warming. We reached close to a million people on Instagram.

Earlier this month, we organised a Voices of My HeART event at Scape to engage youth to mark the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

Through creative arts and other activities, we encouraged early "death and dying" conversations among themselves and with their loved ones.

Evelyn Leong Su Ling

Chief Executive

Singapore Hospice Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Hospice council pleased with changing approach to end-of-life matters'. Print Edition | Subscribe