28 November 2016, Event
Date: 18 Jan 2017, Wed
Time: 8.30am – 1.30pm (Registration begins at 8.00am)
Venue: HCA Hospice Care Auditorium, Level 3, 12 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308437
Fees: Free (First come first served basis, limited to 30 participants.)
Kindly direct enquiries to Star PALS, Cindy Tan at CindyT@hcahospicecare.org.sg / 6891 9398
It can be intimidating for healthcare professionals to talk to children who are facing death. We may not feel comfortable engaging in conversation with children who are at the end of life because we are all trained to cure. While the private worlds of dying children remain a mystery to many, for those of us looking after them, it is critical to find ways to understand their experiences, to customise management plans that truly meet their needs. Most of these discussions are often conducted with parents. Timely conversations about treatment options before a medical crisis develops can be very helpful or even therapeutic for parents. In this workshop, we hope to share some practical approaches in talking with children about death and dying. Tips for conducting family-centred discussions about a child’s emergency care plans will also be shared.
Who Should Attend
This workshop is relevant for nurses, social workers, paediatric residents and paediatric palliative care practitioners who want to have a basic understanding in managing end-of-life issues with children.
8.30am: Opening address
8.45am: Talking to children about death and dying – by Nurse Manager Lily Li
10.15am: Tea break
10.30am: Discussion on paediatric advance care planning – by Dr Richard Yap
Dr Richard Yap, HCA Hospice Care, Star PALS Resident Physician Dr. Richard Yap obtained his Graduate Certificate in Health Care (Palliative Care) from Flinders University, Australia in 2010 and Diploma in Palliative Medicine from the Academy of Medicine, Singapore in 2012. He is an experienced Resident Physician with Star PALS.
Lily Li, HCA Hospice Care, Star PALS Nurse Manager Lily has 17 years of experience in both women and child nursing care. She was previously working in children’s intensive care before joining HCA Hospice Care. At present, she is the Nurse Manager in Star PALS. Both Dr Yap and Lily have been with Star PALS since its inception in April 2012. CNP and CME points issued for the workshop
Click here to register for the workshop.
31 October 2016, Event
We had a splashing good time with our beneficiaries from Star PALS at Punggol WaterPlay and the supportive staff from Deutsche Bank Singapore!
It was a refreshing time for caregivers and the family to gather, relax and recharge.
“I am heartened by the works of HCA Hospice Care, enabling patients and their loved ones to create precious memories to find comfort in one day, enabling patients to finish their live journeys well, in the comfort of their homes and providing support to their loved ones,” says Ai Cheng who never fails to be enthusiastic in the presence of the little ones.
“Let’s do it again!”
Without hesitation, Ai Cheng is ever ready to take up new projects and organised outings. She hopes to organize more events where patients can participate, and reach out to more families – they need not be alone in their journey.
“There is always the apprehension if beneficiaries will find the event enjoyable. But after the event, I’m glad to see them enjoying, happily interacting and playing with the volunteers,” says Ai Cheng, spokesperson of Deutsche Bank who strongly believes in the cause.
Volunteers from different divisions of the bank, ranging from front office to infrastructure/support functions usually get together to render their time and efforts for the beneficiaries at HCA Hospice Care.
The fear of not getting enough volunteers and medical attention which may be needed in the course of the event worries Ai Cheng the most. However, these proved to be unfounded.
Families were swarmed with the love from volunteers and everyone felt assured with Dr. Ann, Star PALS medical doctor in attendance during the event.
“I am especially encouraged when a mother told me that the event is one of those few occasions where she can bring her child out. Even though the child cannot participate in the water play, there is that festivity and atmosphere that she can feel part of,” says Ai Cheng. These are what motivates her to carry on doing what she does for HCA Hospice Care.
HCA Hospice Care is privileged to be the chosen beneficiary of Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank Singapore started collaborating with HCA Hospice Care in August 2013. They’ve participated in many voluntary events such as outings with HCA Day Hospice patients to spring cleaning for our home hospice patients.
Last year, HCA Hospice Care was nominated as one of the four beneficiaries of Deutsche “Donate-a-day” campaign where staff donated a day of their salary. They have been an extremely supportive sponsor and there are countless things to thank Deutsche Bank for and the list continues.
31 October 2016, Event
Why are we talking about Santa Claus when Christmas is still five months away? Well, Star PALS would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to Be MySanta in this issue of HCA Connect!
Be MySanta is an annual non-profit initiative that matches Christmas wishes from children of selected beneficiaries to kind donors also know as “Santa” who secretly surprises children with their needs and wants.
“Through Be MySanta, we want to show that Christmas remains an occasion for us to show love and care for fellow beings and strangers,” says Jacob Toh who started this initiative with his wife in 2009.
The outreach has touched the lives of more than 400 underprivileged children across six children homes in Singapore since then, with a common motive – to spread the festive joy to as many children as possible.
Star PALS had the privilege of being one of the six children organisations that have been blessed by the works of Jacob and his team.
“We identify strongly with the work the organisation is doing and more importantly, it was personally a very meaningful thing for us to bless these children,” says Jacob.
Patients from Star PALS simply answer a questionnaire specially tailored for them. After receiving the forms, Jacob and his team would actively reach out to volunteer donors and these “Santa(s)” will get into action and purchase meaningful gifts that they think the children would fancy.
Collection booths were plotted all across Singapore last Christmas for the nurses to collect the presents which were delivered to the beneficiaries thereafter.
The presents range from simple stationary sets to extravagant presents such as a digital piano which was placed at a children’s home for all to enjoy.
“There is always a burst of joy and excitement when they witness the less fortunate children benefitting from our annual event,” exclaims Jacob. “Every Be MySanta event leaves a fuzzy feeling among those who take part.”
When asked if he would continue investing in the lives of beneficiaries from Star PALS, Jacob replies with a resounding “Definitely!”
It will be Jacob and his team’s fourth year working with Star PALS and he hopes to continue this meaningful and influential project in the years to come.
“Be MySanta brought many happy smiles to our children (and parents) in Star PALS. We see how the volunteers really put their hearts in choosing an appropriate gift for each and every child,” says Serene Wong, nurse from Star PALS. “Thank you for making a difference and sharing joy with what you do!”
Star PALS is immensely grateful to these group of generous donors.
In many ways, Jacob and his team have grown together with the organization and got to know the children better.
“Giving costs you almost nothing but benefits you immensely,” says Jacob who strongly believes in promoting the spirit of giving and continues to put it into action as he partners with Star PALS. “It is very satisfying to know that in our small little ways through Be MySanta, we are able to make these children happier.”
Visit www.starpals.sg to find out more about the services we provide for children with life limiting or life threatening illness. If you wish to participate or donate, please do not hesitate to click here.
31 October 2016, Event
Life took a turn for the worst when happy-go-lucky and out-going art student Muhammad Khairul Ikhwan, 23, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer with a prognosis of two months, in September 2015. He was subsequently referred to Star PALS, a paediatric palliative care programme under HCA Hospice Care, when Nurse Nicole Peng discovered his talent as an artist.
“I simply wish that he can do something that he really wants to do in this lifetime. If Star PALS can help to make his dream come true, why not?’ says Nicole, Khairul’s primary home care nurse.
The effects of Khairul’s cancer caused a whirlwind of changes in his life. His vision and hearing, both of which are important “tools” for him as an artist, were disrupted. Yet he neither feels defeated nor dissuaded. Khairul has managed to outlive his prognosis and has fulfilled his bucket list of hosting a solo art exhibition.
The flamboyant life he once led has given way to one that is constrained by regular medical reviews and chemotherapy treatments. Through it all, Khairul remains positive and upbeat.
Khairul called his art exhibition HOPE – simply and powerfully titled. The exhibition follows his artistic journey of his battle with cancer, portraying how each individual ruminates and reflects on the idea of hope differently, casting wider interpretations on the very essence of life and living.
On the 21st April 2016, Khairul finally saw his wish come true.
We were honoured to have Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), gracing the evening’s event. It started with a walk through the corridor depicting the mind and heart of the artist himself. Hanging from its walls are 87 pieces of original artwork created by Khairul and seven fellow artists who have followed him on this artistic journey mapping out his ongoing battle with cancer.
The piece enclosed in a display case caught the most attention. It showed a vibrant multilayered pyramid of cloths with a pair of sparkling shoes seated on the top – symbolizing the clothes that Khairul fashionably dons on daily.
The walk continues with a stunning array of artworks revealing Khairul’s innermost thoughts and feelings, expressing different phases, thoughts and views of freedom, beauty and peace amidst the fear he has to go through. Beneath the aesthetics and beauty of Khairul’s designs lie a simple individual pressing on to encourage his loved ones, friends and fans alike of the humanity and hope he discovered on the journey.
“Somewhere around the world lives another soul who suffers the same pain as you do but that soul wishes to continue to live on in this world, because they believe it is not their time to leave yet and also because they desire to share and create many more memories for themselves. It’s because of these souls that I press on”.
Khairul’s message is clear, laid bare, raw to the touch and tender yet poignant and influential – to fill himself and ourselves with light and Hope, despite the darkness of fear and pain and doubt. Despite all that he has lost, he has gained an acutely heightened sense of clarity, vision and purpose. He continues to dream and it is this never-ending dream that will persist and shine and propel him out of his sickness, and send his ideas, his thoughts and feelings flying towards the dawns of countless tomorrows.
The event was a success and everyone went home with a new understanding of hope, a lasting gift, his ever-growing legacy – HOPE in all circumstances.
Khairul’s life exemplifies HCA Hospice Care’s aims to provide the best quality of life for patients with life limiting illnesses by delivering professional palliative care and providing compassionate support to their families. Like us on Facebook for the event photos or visit www.hca.org.sg to find out more!
10 December 2013, Event
In 2008, celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart had the brilliant idea – for communities of photographers around the world to band together to give back.
That was the birth of Help-Portrait, and this year, its Singapore chapter had the generosity to give 20 of our Star PALS children and their families a chance to take a professional family portrait, totally pro bono.
What better way to tell a story of photo-taking than in photos?
1) The first batch of Star PALS families arriving bright and early in the morning at Jurong Bird Park, greeted by our wonderful volunteers.
2) Then came the make-up and hairstyling by volunteering professional make-up artists, and finally, the photo-taking itself.
3) Professional studio photographers touched up the photos to perfection.
4) Meanwhile Senior Minister of State Amy Khor graciously found time to grace our event over lunch, and see our children.
5) Our wonderful emcees, and performances by Lin Si Tong, Myla and Friends, the Caring Clowns, and Edwin the Magician, kept us entertained throughout the day.
6) Finally, families happily went home with their portraits.
7) All of this would not have been possible without our incredible volunteers and sponsors!
For the full set of photos taken that day, check out our Facebook album here.
08 November 2013, Event
‘It’s the first time we’ve eaten dinner alone together since Haikal was born!’ Madam Yusnani exclaimed, looking across at her husband.
Though certainly candle-lit (tea light-lit would be a more accurate description) the setting wasn’t quite as romantic as we would have liked it. However, this is already more than many of our Star PALS families have time for, with a vulnerable child at home who requires so much care – from feeding, to changing, to therapy.
So, during the Family Day Camp the Star PALS team organised, our patients like the adorable Haikal, Mdm Yusnani’s son, were cared for by our nurses, Medi Minders, and volunteers, while their parents and caregivers got a chance to relax properly and catch their breaths.
The event was set at the Siloso Beach Resort at Sentosa, and families were invited to stay overnight as a getaway. After most of the children were properly settled in in their hotel beds, the families set out for a luge ride, then enjoyed their lunch and short ice-breaking games at a sea-side pavilion.
After a quick rest in the hotel rooms, the families set out for the highlight of the event, the SEA Aquarium, this time with most of the Star PALS children getting out of bed to join us. Dinner in the evening and hydrotherapy the next morning rounded off the family getaway.
One of the parents shared, after her luge ride, ‘Though I still feel a little worried being away from my son, I feel so much more relaxed today.’
Which was great for us to hear, since that was exactly what we wanted: to care for those who are so often forgotten in this journey – the parents, the domestic helpers, the children’s siblings.
For the day to day respite care, our trained Medi Minders are on hand to help our families take a break every once in a while. Take a look at all the photos taken that night on our Facebook album here.
03 September 2013, Event
It’s in the parents, family, caregivers, nurses and doctors who work so hard for our Star PALS children that we witness a unique brand of unconditional love – one that, by virtue of the very fact that it never gives up, willingly leaves itself vulnerable.
The lyrics above, from Corrinne May’s If you didn’t love me, portray the power these special people’s love had on the children, giving them the strength to fight their hardest.
The live performance of this song was just one part of the Star PALS memorial night, a poignant evening of both tears and laughter. That night, we celebrated not only the bright lives of our shining stars who have passed on, but also the incredible capacity for love their families and caregivers have.
The event kicked off with the 70 attendees writing notes to the children and to thank others. Tealights representing the light each child brought were placed in blue candle holders decorated with the children’s names. Dr Akhileswaran, CEO of HCA Hospice Care, and Dr Aimee Seet, Council President, lit a candle for the children whose loved ones could not make it that night.
The event ended with a sparkler session by the sea, under a clear night sky which, fittingly, was dotted with stars.
One of the children’s parents translated a poem she recently published, in which she expressed how her son had strengthened her faith as she struggled to come to terms with the grief of losing him. She also shared how she keeps a photo of him in her car so that she can chat with him when driving alone.
Even as we fondly remember these children as the bright stars who continue to be a guiding light in our lives, we must never forget to salute the unsung heroes around them who have, with their undying love and care, been indispensable stars in these children’s lives.
Star PAL’s full range of holistic palliative care services covers not only medical care of children with life-limiting illness, but also psychosocial and bereavement support for their loved ones and caregivers.
Take a look at all the photos taken that night here.