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My Nurse, My Teacher
31 August 2021

1st of August is Nurses’ Day in Singapore and this date is set aside to recognise and honour the contributions of nurses. This date represents the start of the development of nursing in Singapore. Above: Paul (right) and HCA Nursing colleagues celebrating Nurses’ Day 2020 with their HCA jackets.

By Paul Bashyam, Senior Medical Social Worker

As I was walking through the ward at one of the major hospitals, I noticed a row of “thank you” cards hanging on the wall. One card stood out for me. It had a quote by an unknown author that read "NURSE - just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.”

In an institutional or hospital setting, patients receive care in a consistent and controlled environment. Conversely, in a home care setting like HCA Hospice Care, our nurses, doctors and psychosocial team visit the patients and their families in their homes. As each home is unique to its owner, our team faces many unique challenges unknown and unlike in other settings. Often our nurses brave many difficulties when visiting patients and families in their homes. Some endure unreasonable attitudes from patients or their family members. Others endure difficult journeys to remote patient homes, rain or shine, sometimes even a boat ride to visit a patient on Pulau Ubin!

Strong enough to tolerate anything

Consequently, our nurses face the emotional turmoil of having to remain professional, while being human. Often, our nurses journey with the same patients throughout their time with us and when these patients pass on, they may feel the sadness. However, they need to maintain a professional front to prevent them from transferring their grief to another patient, on a subsequent visit.

I recall going on a bereavement visit with my nursing colleague in the morning, as one of our patients had just passed away. While still feeling emotionally burdened from the morning visit, we had to visit another patient who was celebrating her child’s birthday and we had to show our happier side. As we were travelling between the visits, my nurse reminded me that there is a time and place for everything. “We need to happy for the child’s birthday celebration now, but we can grieve when we return to the office later.” These words are constantly etched in my mind. I realised it was unfair to bring our grief to the child’s birthday celebration, because we had a choice to grieve later but the child only had that brief window of happiness.


Nurses’ Day 2019 celebrations over a nice meal with HCA nursing colleagues.

Soft enough to understand anyone

In HCA Hospice Care, our nurses are more than just nurses— they are superheroes. They are all encompassing experts of nursing procedures and medication, compassionate and passionate healthcare professionals for our patients. I remember how one of our nurses had to clean and dress a large fungating wound and she did it with such tenderness and care, that the patient was so touched and began to tear. This act allowed the patient to know that he was not just another case number or patient, but a person that mattered, one with hopes, dreams and feelings.

My Nurse Manager Lay Choo, always reminds me that it is a blessing for us to serve our patients.

Thank you, nurses, for your selfless service during these difficult times.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, our nurses have to work extra hard, take extra precautions, even having to don full PPE (personal protection equipment) in the community which can be stuffy and uncomfortable, while allaying patients and families’ concerns— all this while worrying about their own loved ones back home.

Thank you HCA Hospice Care nurses for teaching me so much! Wishing all nurses, a Happy Nurses’ Day!