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Learning to Refuel
31 August 2018

Making time for self-care fuels endurance to continue one’s pursuits. 

Psychologist Christopher Germer once said: “Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

There are numerous commitments that compete for our time and effort every day, which makes self-care ever more important. This is particularly apt for our palliative care professionals, who consistently lend a pillar of support to patients with life-limiting illnesses. Rain or shine, our nurses make multiple visits to different corners of the island on a daily basis, tirelessly attending to the patients under their care.

An Outlet to Decompress

To provide a safe space for nurses to express their thoughts and feelings, HCA started the Personal Development Programme in 2016, in which counsellors from Changi General Hospital (CGH) come in on a weekly basis to conduct one-on-one sessions with the nurses.

Ms Rena Sivadas in a counselling session with one of HCA’s nurses.

Speaking with a neutral third party can offer plenty of benefits, including fresh perspectives on challenges at work. “We explore and work through different issues with the nurses,” says Rena Sivadas, Senior Trauma Recovery and Corporate Solutions (TRaCS) Counsellor from CGH. “These can include grief, misunderstandings and communication issues with patients and their families.”

Rena is one of three counsellors who work with HCA, each of whom continually see the same nurses they are assigned to so as to build rapport and trust. “Some of the nurses were a bit reserved initially, but over time, they have become more receptive to coming for the sessions,” Rena shares. “They also shared how they have benefited from the programme.”

A Therapeutic Process

The Personal Development Programme provides a safe space for nurses to express their thoughts in confidence and explore different suggestions. One of the therapeutic methods is role play, in which nurses utilise different communication techniques in simulated encounters with patients.

"Through role play, they get a chance to apply the skills they have learnt,” Rena says.

Making time for non-work-related pursuits helps to refresh the mind. In conjunction with Nurses’ Day, the HCA team recently enjoyed a session of pottery together.

The programme not only enables nurses to glean fresh perspectives, but also provides a reminder to make time for themselves. “I often ask, ‘what brings you joy?’ and encourage them to engage in more of these hobbies so that they can manage in the long haul,” Rena says. “Knowing when to draw the line is very important, especially in healthcare.”

The benefits of the sessions are hardly one way though. “I really enjoy meeting with the nurses,” she shares. “It is very inspiring because they give so much of themselves.”