Hospice gets dose of Xmas cheer

SINGAPORE - It was a bittersweet encounter for the nurse and her former patient.

Just months ago, she was one of the nurses who had tended to the elderly cancer patient at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

They met this time at a hospice, where the nurse, in a cheery green T-shirt and Christmas hat instead of her usual uniform, greeted her former charge.

Together with about 25 nurse volunteers from SGH and the National Heart Centre Singapore, Ms Aw Fung Chee, 40, brought early Christmas cheer to 29 palliative-care patients at the HCA Hospice Care last Friday. That was where Ms Aw, nurse clinician from SGH's medical oncology ward, met her former patient.

For about an hour, the nurses, who took time off their busy schedules for the celebration, got the patients who suffer from life-limiting diseases to sing and clap along to Christmas carols, cheered them on for cheeky forfeits and gave out gifts like balloon sculptures.

For Ms Aw, the coordinator for this year's event, the three months of planning paid off, especially when she saw her former charge enjoying herself.

Ms Aw told told The New Paper: "It was very nice seeing her."

Although Ms Aw admitted she could not recall her former patient, she was still heartened to see her happy at the hospice and soaking up the Christmas spirit.

Ms Aw, who volunteers at other hospices like the Dover Park Hospice under an oncology support group, said it is common for her to meet former patients during these visits.

The Nursing Community Partnership Council oversees the oncology support group and 12 other patient support groups.

For the newer nurses, a simple smile on each patient's face was enough.

Miss Sitti Juriani, 21, a staff nurse from SGH's obstetrics and gynaecology department for the past eight months, was seen giving an elderly patient a high-five.

The nurse said: "All I want is to make (them) happy and smile... Just one day to make them happy is a great thing because time is precious for them."

Said Madam Cheok Siew Kee, 67, who suffers from myelofibrosis, a disorder of the bone marrow: "Today's programme had everything - games to play, and the songs made the Christmas atmosphere lively... I enjoyed the Christmas carols most."

Mr Jimmy Tan, 86, a prostate cancer patient, sipped his coffee, flashed a grin and said: "I think their service is wonderful. I feel like they are family."

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