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Breaking Taboo, Building Bridges
30 October 2017

Breaking Taboo, Building Bridges

(From centre to right) Dr Lam Pin Min, Dr Tan Poh Kiang HCA President, Ms Angeline Wee HCA CEO and Mr Tay Kuang Teck of Project Happy Apples sharing a light-hearted moment at Life Stories Exhibition.

HCA joins a dedicated group of volunteers to bring fresh perspectives of palliative care to the public

Two blackboards with the words, “Before I Die” written in white on all fours sides stood out prominently in the centre of Toa Payoh HDB Hub Atrium, garnering many stares from inquisitive onlookers.

It was even a more curious sight to see two rows of senior citizens putting on headphones “connected” to mock telephone booths accompanied by a mini army of exuberant young adults using a mashup of Mandarin, dialect and Singlish attempting to engage ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ of all ages.

Senior citizens trying out the interactive exhibits, actively engaged by enthusiastic students from NUS’ Project Happy Apples.

An innovative community exhibition on palliative care, Life Stories Exhibition (LSE) is a culmination of a year-long collaboration between Project Happy Apples (PHA) and HCA to engage the public on hospice and palliative care.

The opening of the exhibition was graced by Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport. HCA’s President, Dr Tan Poh Kiang, CEO, Ms Angeline Wee and Medical Director, Dr Chong Poh Heng were part of the VIP delegates invited to witness this inaugural event.

Dr Lam announced the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) commitment to expand the number of home palliative care places from 5,500 in 2016 to 6,000 in 2020. He also revealed that MOH will also be investing in promoting awareness of Advanced Care Planning (ACP) among healthcare professionals and in the community.

7 in 10 Singaporeans wish to spend their last days being cared for at home, but less than 3 in 10 eventually will. 

PHA was founded by a group of medical students from National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine with a vision to promote the awareness of hospice care available and to understand the options available so as to make informed decisions.

PHA took a year to befriend our patients and shared their journeys via story boards in the hope of increasing awareness of this taboo subject among Singaporeans.

Young or old, all were earnestly penning their thoughts on the Before-I-Die board.

Besides story-boards, there were also interactive exhibits such as Before I Die boards for the public to scribble their thoughts and Telephone Booth where participants were given an audio file to hear before penning down their thoughts to reflection questions.

Dr Lam greeting HCA’s Medical Director Dr Chong Poh Heng, with HCA’s leadership team President Dr Tan and CEO Angeline Wee.

Commending the students for their effort, Dr Chong Poh Heng, the Medical Director of HCA, said, “It is heartening to see medical students engaged in facilitating conversations around dying and spreading the hospice message with the general public.”

Dr Lim Jia Qing and Dr Michelle Cheng sharing insights on hospice care in Singapore during a public seminar.

On the 22 Oct, Sunday, the second day of LSE, two of HCA’s doctors, Dr Michelle Cheng and Dr Lim Jia Qing, had the privilege of giving a joint public seminar in both English and Mandarin on the topic, “Hospice Care in Singapore”.

At the close of this experiential journey of public education, HCA was starkly reminded of our calling as a home-based palliative care service provider by one line that hung atop an exhibit:

7 in 10 Singaporeans wish to spend their last days being cared for at home, but less than 3 in 10 eventually will.

– Lien Foundation research

(L) Our Day Hospice Supervisor, Nancy Soon, with one of her patients, Mr Jimmy Tam.
(R) Nurse Manager, Goh Sock Cheng, fielding queries from members of the public.

This public show was a timely reminder to all that we should live life to the fullest, enjoying every moment on the final journey. To find out more about how HCA helps beneficiaries add life to days.

please visit us at hca.org.sg.