By PC Gan, Country Manager of Homage Malaysia.
This op-ed piece can also be found in BERNAMA.
Humans have an enormous capacity for resilience and empathy, and never has that been more evident than now. In recent months, the numerous touching stories of Good Samaritans stepping up to care for those less fortunate than them are shining beacons of kindness in a gloomy world.
Nurses are a prime example of these kind souls. Every day, they brave the challenges of the coronavirus and continue to serve patients in need to the best of their ability. Their specialised medical training and skill sets, coupled with their unwavering dedication to providing quality care, have been an invaluable source of strength and comfort for patients and their families during these times.
Angels on earth
Imagine this: being carefully wheeled out of the surgery room as you wait for the anesthetic to wear off. Having your vital signs checked every few hours to make sure you are in stable condition. Relying on someone to turn you over in bed to prevent sores or give you a sponge bath because you cannot move on your own. Needing them to patiently feed you food and water when you cannot feed yourself.
Nurses do all these things and more. They spend the most time with a patient and look after every aspect of their mental and physical wellbeing, yet their contributions are often overlooked or taken for granted. Whether they are performing medical procedures such as catheter care and stoma care or checking in on a patient and keeping their spirits up, the role of a nurse in facilitating quality care should never be underestimated.
Going above and beyond
A nurse’s purview of care is not limited to patients in hospitals and clinics. Before the pandemic began in earnest, nurses at Homage were already serving as caregiving support to the elderly.
With Malaysia heading towards becoming an ageing nation by 2030 and seniors preferring to ‘age in place’ at home, bridging the gap is becoming increasingly necessary. Seniors are the demographic that most need professional and dedicated assistance with post-surgical care or Activities of Daily Living (ADL), which nurses are trained to provide.
We have had families with seniors who have dementia or the aftereffects of a stroke that initially stopped care when the crisis began. However, they resumed care visits during the movement control order (MCO) as they were coping with remote working practices and needed additional care support. They also saw how much our nurses contributed to improving the lives of their elderly, especially in these stressful and uncertain times.
Caregiving is a constant
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of receiving the proper care from trained caregivers, but it is crucial to remember that caregiving and receiving care is a constant of life, not a one-off incident. People needed care before, still need care during, and will need care after the pandemic. Not all of these will be in clinics or hospitals, but their need is no less than patients in formal healthcare institutions – perhaps even more so.
Given that caregiving and receiving care are part and parcel of life, we can explore new ways to disperse the burden across the caregiving chain instead of centralising it all at the hospitals. Empowering nurses to care for patients beyond the healthcare institutions creates a more holistic healthcare system that opens up access to professional quality caregiving for everyone. It also provides more career options for nurses without resulting in a skill drain from the healthcare workforce.
At Homage, we use our proprietary technology to connect nurses to families that need the types of care services they can provide in their own home such as tube feeding care and wound care, manual transfers to the bed before and after showers for specific conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and physiotherapy. Similar to a hospital environment, an e-log will be recorded in real-time after each visit. This creates a comprehensive record of the care recipient’s recovery journey, which provides transparency to family members and even doctors for future follow-ups.
Giving back to the caregivers
Nurses do so much for us every day, the least we can do is say thank you to them in any way we can. The heartwarming news about lighting up phones, writing letters and cards, delivering food and more for nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers is a positive first step in acknowledging the contributions of these heroes.
In conjunction with International Nurses Day, we at Homage have decided to give back to our Care Pros by collaborating with PolicyStreet to continuously insure both our full-timers and freelancers. Under this scheme, they enjoy personal accident coverage that includes snatch theft and loss of income in case of an accident. We want to give our caregivers and nurses peace of mind that they are covered when they are serving others, allowing them to focus on what they do best.
To all nurses and caregivers out there, thank you for what you do. You are seen, you are appreciated, and you are valued.