Building lasting relationships in community care

For this Community Nursing Scholarship recipient, working in the community care sector involves more than giving healthcare services to the elderly

During the circuit breaker period, tele-visits via Zoom were arranged to allow Bukit Batok Care Home residents to stay in touch with their loved ones. PHOTO: STAFF NURSE KING

Staff nurse Lim Wei Liang has no qualms about working in community care as it is a sector in need of more healthcare professionals. He knows he can learn a great deal in a field that is growing and dynamic.

Nursing as a vocation appeals to him as he wants to serve vulnerable seniors.

"I choose to work in the community care sector to build lasting relationships with my residents," said Mr Lim, 26, who joined the Bukit Batok Care Home in February.

Coming from a Hokkien-speaking household also gave him confidence that he would be able to relate to many of the seniors he serves.

He juggles various functions to provide all-round care for the 43 residents in the ward where he works. He dresses wounds, manages the residents' medical appointments, and orders, labels and checks their medication. He shares that getting residents to take their medicine is not always straightforward.

He explains: "There may be times when this is challenging, so we have to get creative. Depending on the resident, some methods I use include giving them drinks to take with medications, and helping them with tasks like changing the battery of their alarm clocks at the bedside in return for their cooperation."

The residents' next-of-kin would often be roped in to help. As a last resort, the medicine would be mixed into food and drinks.

"In essence, we have to be adaptable and have good time management," he said. Leadership skills also come in handy to supervise a team of residential care associates who help to serve the residents.

Adapting to the Covid-19 situation

Not long into his job, visits to all nursing homes were suspended to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. Mr Lim and other resident-facing staff also had to stay at designated accommodation facilities to reduce their exposure to the community - a return to communal living that harked back to his National Service days.

Apart from sacrificing comfort and privacy, he had to adjust to not being able to see his family or relish home-cooked meals. He missed important family occasions such as his mother's birthday, and celebrated it with her on FaceTime.

But he took the various challenges in his stride, saying: "As long as our residents could stay safe, I feel that our sacrifices were worthwhile."

Performing wound care for residents is among Mr Lim Wei Liang's responsibilities as a community care nurse. He helps to ensure wounds heal well and are free from infection. PHOTO: STAFF NURSE KING

Some residents could not understand why their families had not visited and felt abandoned. So Mr Lim went the extra mile to lift their spirits by setting up tele-visits with them and their loved ones.

He adds: "Every day I explained to them that visitors were not allowed due to the Covid-19 situation, and assured them that their family members wanted to visit but couldn't during that time. My colleagues and I also spent more time chatting with them so they wouldn't feel so lonely.

"These challenging times have provided me with valuable learning opportunities. I see first-hand how infection control measures are implemented, and I even attended training to perform Covid-19 testing for my residents and colleagues."

Benefiting from a scholarship

No doubt, the Community Nursing Scholarship Mr Lim secured while pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Hons) degree from the National University of Singapore has helped shape his career path. It also enabled him to stop working part-time, and eased the financial burden on his parents.

"My parents inspired me to take up the scholarship. They are in their 60s and while they are still in good health, I feel that having a nurse in the family would be valuable. While I care for the seniors in our community, I can care for my parents too," he says.

He encourages others to apply for the scholarship, saying a career in community care is "immensely rewarding as you are able to build a long-term relationship with the residents under your care."

Visit this website to find out more about the Community Nursing Scholarship and how you can apply for one.

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