SINGAPORE - Former Singapore Airlines (SIA) crew member Tristan Yap, 31, had been working in a temporary role as a care ambassador at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) for just a couple of weeks when he encountered a patient who was delirious after an accident.
The patient was struggling to get out of his bed even though he was being restrained. While the nurses were trying to help him, they were also busy with several other tasks.
Seeing this, Mr Yap volunteered to wheel the patient around the ward to help calm him down, and subsequently helped him with his other needs like his meals.
“On the day he was discharged, he motioned to me and he gave me a biggest hug,” he said.
“That was when I felt like I found a new calling in life.”
Mr Yap, who has been at SIA for seven years, quit the airline to join KTPH full-time this month as a patient care officer.
He is one of the three SIA cabin crew who have decided to take on the newly created role full-time. There are about 20 people who have joined so far, with KTPH looking to hire a total of 100 people.
The officers will work with doctors, nurses and allied health staff to take care of patients. For example, they will perform non-clinical functions such as helping patients to clean up and feeding them.
KTPH chief operating officer Yen Tan said the work of the 60 SIA crew temporarily deployed at the hospital, such as Mr Yap, had inspired it to create the new job.
KTPH and SIA had jointly launched a care ambassador programme in April to temporarily deploy SIA crew who are not flying to help at the hospital.
Ms Tan said: “This crisis showed us that there are people who want to serve in healthcare, but they are waiting for the right opportunity.”
The new officers will undergo a full 20-day training curriculum.
Of this, three days of training will be conducted by SIA.
It is the first time SIA is offering its training and development services to an external organisation.
Its cabin crew trainers will conduct a three-day course that will focus on interpersonal communication, customer handling, and showing values such as empathy.
SIA senior vice-president of human resources Vanessa Ng said: “SIA can support companies and organisations with our experience and expertise in this area, and adapt our courses to meet their specific customer and industry requirements.”
SIA and KTPH are also looking into other areas of collaboration.
This includes the application of SIA’s crew resource management practices, which are a range of skills to enhance flight safety and reduce human error, to KTPH’s operations.
For Mr Yap and his two colleagues who quit SIA to start new full-time jobs at KTPH, they said they had initially decided to take on the temporary care ambassador roles after opportunities to fly as cabin crew dried up following the Covid-19 pandemic.
But they then found meaning in what they were doing, and decided to continue.
Ms Sandra Goh, 39, a former cabin crew for the past 15 years and now a new patient care executive at KTPH, said the passion and dedication shown by the nurses she worked with had inspired her career switch.
She said: “I have always had an interest in healthcare but just never had the courage to try anything... but I thought since now there are no flights, I might as well put my time to better use and join something meaningful.
“When you see the smiles on the patients’ faces when you greet them in the morning, they are happy and you feel good about helping people. I find it very fulfilling.”
The three crew members declined to comment on the pay difference, but said they were thankful to have a job given the current uncertain climate.
Ms Regina Yeoh, 32, who had been working with SIA for eight years, said it took a lot of courage and thought to finally decide on giving up her love for flying and her lifestyle.
She said she had initially wanted to pick up skills in caregiving when she took on the role temporarily. But she found that she adapted well and was happy working there.
When asked for her advice for those who might be considering applying for the job, she said: “Anybody can do it so long you try, but you also have to consider it seriously because you have to be responsible for everybody around you.”
Those interested in applying for the role can find out more here. The starting pay ranges between $2,100 and $2,500 a month.