Confessions of a home-care nurse: Besides being a nurse, she's also a friend
Home-care nurse cites providing emotional support as a big part of her job
While most people would be worried about taking care of their parents as they get older, it has never been a concern for Miss Carol Lim.
The 44-year-old feels absolutely ready for it, thanks to the on-the-job training she gets.
For the past nine months, Miss Lim has been working as a home-care nurse with Homage, tending to patients in their homes.
She was a nurse for 21 years in both private and government hospitals - serving her longest stint in the National University Hospital's intensive care unit.
Hence, some of her current duties are familiar to her. For instance, monitoring the vital signs of patients or administering medication. She also helps to carry out treatments such as dialysis.
But she pointed out that a home-care nurse's responsibilities extend beyond that.
"I help with their daily activities because some of them might need help," she said, adding that the activities includeeating, going to the toilet and taking walks.
About 70 per cent of Miss Lim's patients are seniors and her working hours differ from patient to patient.
Some require only an hour or two of her time, but others have asked her to provide care for as long as 12 hours.
A big part of Miss Lim's job is providing emotional support for her patients. According to her, not all of them are fortunate enough to have people who will listen to them.
She said: "Home-care nurses have to give a lot of emotional and mental support to patients, especially to seniors. Some patients don't have people to keep them company, so we do that."
This is Miss Lim's favourite part of the job.
While she admits that some parts of the job can be challenging, such as changing diapers for adults,she said that it is all worth it because she enjoys interacting closely with her patients.
"Some of them can be really adorable and have interesting stories. One patient was an ex-teacher who had an interesting career and personal life, and I enjoyed hearing all about it," she said.
"It has been my experience over and over again that as a home-care nurse, the patients and their families find it easy to trust me and open up easily.
"That kind of connection will be hard to find in another job."
Although her patients have a routine set of medication to take or treatments to undergo, Miss Lim added that her days tend to be unpredictable because she works on an on-call basis - meaning that she has to be ready for any kind of situation.
It is a good thing then that she has had many years of practice.
She feels that all her previous experiences have led her to her current role.
"All my skills have been built up for this moment and complex cases don't scare me," she said.
"I am glad to be doing what I am doing."
When asked about her mother, Miss Lim said: "She doesn't need help because she is still independent.
"But rest assured if anything happens, I'll know what to do."
Secrets of the trade
Be prepared to get your hands dirty. This includes not just changing diapers for patients but showering them, too.
- Every patient has different needs, both in terms of medical care as well as emotional needs. Home-care nurses need to be adaptable to all sorts of patients.
- It is not just about the patients themselves, home-care nurses need to be able to operate in any kind of setting. Not everyone's home is neat, and not every patient's family is nice, but it shouldn't stop you from focusing on the patient.