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Behind the Scenes: Oasis@Outram
30 June 2022

At HCA’s newest Day Hospice, Oasis@Outram, our staff and patients wear many hats, each with the purpose of making their time there more fruitful and meaningful.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Communications

Not everything is as it seems at Oasis@Outram. When the neon lights at The Tap buzz to life, HCA Nursing Aide Kokat Girija Krishna Priya appears behind the bar, in a spiffy cowboy hat. She expertly mixes classic cocktails – like Whiskey Sour, a solid favourite among our patients – and hands them to HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse Serene Wong, who’s decked out in street-grunge fashion and rollerblades.

Serene whizzes through the crowd, deftly serving the drinks to their happy recipients, who chuckle in amusement at her getup. HCA Day Hospice patient Benjamin Lim busies himself, ensuring that his fellow patients get what they need. It seems an unlikely role for a patient, but lending a helping hand makes him happy.

Priya, Serene and Benjamin exemplify what it means to be a part of the Oasis@Outram experience, where everyone is empowered to grow and develop new skills outside of their traditional roles.

The Service Experience Officer

Bubbly and optimistic by nature, Serene is always game to step up to new, exciting challenges.

Serene, a veteran nurse with almost 15 years of experience, is also the Service Experience Officer (SEO) at Oasis@Outram. As the SEO, she leads the implementation of the service rituals, which relate to every aspect of the experience, from the patients’ first day at the place, to the daily activities. Serene also connects with her colleaguesregularly to gather feedback, plan workflows and budgets, and propose fresh ideas to management.

“I am essentially the eyes and ears of the place, and I try to be aware of the things that will affect our patients’ experience here,” she explains.

These include even the tiniest of details. “There was once we were showing a new patient around the place, and we invited her to pick out a locker of her own,” Serene shares. “But we realised that many of the lockers were occupied, but not locked.”

“We wanted her to exercise her choices, yet these were not available to her.”

One of the rituals Serene is currently overseeing, is the Surprise Ritual. The Oasis@Outram team makes detailed notes of our patients’ favourite foods and drinks on a spreadsheet, and springs these surprises randomly, much to the delight of patients.

“One of our patients mentioned in passing that she liked durian ice cream,” Serene shares. “One of our team members bought it for her one day, and she really perked up when she saw it.”

Serene admits that it has not been easy taking on a role so starkly different from her nursing duties, but it is exciting at the same time. “We focus on these micro-moments, surprising our patients and make it fun for them,” she says.

The Social Animator

Priya (third from left) at The Tap.

As a nursing aide, Priya did not imagine herself taking on the role of Social Animator at Oasis@Outram. The role requires her to ensure that patients receive a warm welcome on their first day, with a drink of their choice at The Tap – an open bar within Oasis@Outram.

“In my role, I help out in the clinic, monitor patients’ vitals, arrange for clinic consultations, change wound dressings, amongst other duties,” she explains. “Being a Social Animator did not come to my mind until our Director of Nursing Sister Angela approached me.”

Under the guidance of a volunteer bartender, Priya quickly picked up bartending skills and was inspired to perfect her craft. “I try to perfect the different layers in the drinks, and I love experimenting with new recipes for our patients too,” she says.

“Working here has helped me to see things in a different perspective – it is not about doing the things we want, but what they – our patients – want.”

Priya fondly recalls a patient who once told her, “In my 70-odd years, I’ve never had such an experience, going to the bar.”

“I am really glad to be part of her experience.”

The Buddy

Benjamin helps patients with boarding the van for their trip home from Oasis@Outram.

HCA Day Hospice patient Benjamin Lim, 27, might be reticent by nature, but he is easily the most enthusiastic and helpful patient at Oasis@Outram. He is also one of the Buddies, an informal initiative that pairs selected patients with new patients, to orientate and welcome them to the place.

Being a Buddy enables patients to share their experiences of the place in their own words, fostering a sense of camaraderie. On any typical day at Oasis@Outram, Benjamin can be spotted flitting from area to area, wheeling patients around and rendering his help in any way he can.

“It took some adjustment initially for me to engage elderly folks in conversation, and to take on the role of a Buddy, but I find it very fulfilling,” Benjamin shares. “I like helping out here.”

Despite having a brain tumour, Benjamin is hopeful about the future. “I used to work in logistics, but I can’t go back because of my condition,” he says. “I hope to get a full-time job in, perhaps, administration in the future.”

“Benjamin has been very helpful, and he always tries to think of new ideas for our processes,” Serene says. “He has completed baking courses as well and hopes to share his recipes and conduct lessons for our patients too.”

“We hope to create a system in which existing Buddies train new Buddies in the future,” Serene says. “It empowers them to contribute and help other patients, even at the end of life.”