No sacrifice too great for these nursing aides away from home
Unable to return home to visit their families, these foreign nurses remain dedicated to caring for the disabled
She was supposed to return to India for her wedding in May, but it was postponed because of the lockdown there.
And with nearly 1.5 million cases and more than 33,000 deaths in India, Ms Jisna Jose does not know when she will be able to get married.
Ms Jose, 28, a nursing aide who has been working here since April last year, is one of 60 mainly foreign nurses at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD).
Located at Lengkok Bahru, off Jalan Bukit Merah, it is Singapore's only residential home for those with severe physical and intellectual disabilities.
Staff have to provide round-the-clock care for close to 100 live-in residents who suffer from conditions such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
Nurses Day will be celebrated on Saturday and with the pandemic still raging, these nurses face a different set of challenges from their peers in major hospitals in caring for residents.
For example, the nurses have been allowed to leave the dormitories in RCHD only to buy essentials since the circuit breaker started in April.
RCHD has a split team management with care staff segregated into zones. To avoid cross-zone mingling, all care duties within each zone have to be performed by the nurses without additional support.
The nurses' duties involve feeding, bathing and changing the diapers of the residents.
As most residents are unable to verbalise their thoughts, Ms Jose had to learn the residents' non-verbal cues when they are in pain or discomfort.
She said: "When the patients are crying, it might mean they are sitting in a position that is hurting them, or sometimes the residents will hint they require something by moving their eyes."
Her colleague, Madam Vedina Moneda Goyena, 37, a senior nursing aide at RCHD, is from the Philippines.
She said: "Despite being disabled, the residents are constantly smiling and accepting circumstances that cannot be changed. I realised it is important to take challenges in a positive manner."
Her eight-year-old son's words of encouragement during their daily phone calls keep her going. She had planned to visit the Philippines earlier this year after two years of not seeing her family, but was unable to because of the pandemic.
Mr Benjamin William, secretary-general and chief executive of the Singapore Red Cross, said: "Many of our nurses come from neighbouring countries, having left their own family and loved ones behind.
"Despite that, they remain dedicated to the task of providing daily care for our residents with great sense of pride and professionalism."