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Take this extra pair of helping hands – “I am always ready to reach out”
13 October 2015

“You are at the last stage of cancer. You are left with three months to live”

How does one live life to the fullest with such news? Piling bills? Wealth? Disputes? The list goes on with unexpected issues one has to brace himself to tackle.

Medical Social Worker, Lola Ng, witnessed many family disputes, legal and financial issues come to a close after 5 years of social work experience in HCA Hospice Care, prior to social work in other organisations.

Starting her day with meetings followed by multiple calls from different sectors – ranging from assisting patient’s child care to CPF funds distribution after death. Then, she steps out with liveliness for her daily visits with patients and families.

“People like to feel important. That is what I do,” says Lola, who provides fast and practical advices to meet needs. As a Medical Social worker, she prefers to be on the go, solving issues and problems. “I do not like to listen and sit on it without doing anything. I have to act on it quickly.”

Time spent is solely focused on every individual – looking deeply, listening and respecting each person. Even if the person does not speak much, their behaviour does. Lola is sensitive and quick to attune to what they feel, think and need.

The door may not always be open for a medical social worker. Some families might think that they are doing fine. But along the way, they realise that everyone needs another pair of helping hands through the journey.

“Overtime, they open up naturally and it becomes a free invitation as their friend.”

Practical needs such as hospitals beds, commodes and walking aids are costly necessities. Whatever brings comfort and peace, Lola would offer to bring it to them.

“We do not just talk, we give practical help, prepare paperwork for them to process any necessary applications. We lead and guide them in this unknown journey. We don’t give up till patient’s last breath.”

Working in a hospice, time and last wishes are important. Patients would ask for reconciliation, to be well again or even for a washing machine. Some patients, with tears welled up would simply request “A little more time and I’ll go”.

“When I meet my patients, I forget my own problems. They are the reason for my job,” says Lola, who receives overwhelming encouragements and love from her patients despite their own problems.

On an occasion, Lola’s visit with a married couple shifted the whole atmosphere in the household. The couple decided to bury the hatchet after years of misunderstanding with just a simple ‘sorry’. It is a word so tough to say yet it makes a huge impact. It was Lola’s first and only session with the couple and it brought such positive outcome, something she could not fathom.

“A little gratitude brings a sense of thankfulness and soften hearts. After a few visits, I see them talking cordially and you know it is real. Not an act,” says Lola.

Lola stands in the gap for her patients and families and tries her best to fulfill their last wishes. She does not just hear but listens to every need. To Lola, hearing is simply the ability to perceive information but listening is paying close attention.

“Allow yourself to feel what they feel so that you can understand. Detaching your feelings is not always good,” says Lola.

Lola describes herself as a dew drop on a leaf – a drop of pure water on a fresh green life. Symbolising life, rejuvenating growth and hope. The leaf might wither and die but with the droplets refreshes and brings life. Lola continues to spread her joy, positive energy and liveliness to her patients and families through the work she does.

“I ask myself what I can do that someone else can’t. For sure, I know I am called to do this work at this present moment in my life. Stay humble, listen and respond.”

HCA Hospice Care Medical Social Workers are always there for their patients and families through the journey and giving bereavement support thereafter. Drop a word of encouragement for Lola Ng and the team @ communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg. Visit https://www.hca.org.sg/hospice/services/things-to-note to find out more about Psychosocial and Bereavement Support.