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Star PALS launches the Empowerment Series
06 March 2015

This February, Star PALS kick-started the Star PALS Empowerment Series to equip caregivers with useful skills that could help them in their journey.

The Star PALS Empowerment Series is targeted at the parents of the children under the Star PALS Programme. Composed of workshops by qualified speakers on a variety of subjects, the series is slated to be a bimonthly affair.

“A vital part of paediatric palliative care is supporting the patients’ loved ones,” said Ang Siang Ping, Medical Social Worker with Star PALS. “The Star PALS Empowerment Series will include all sorts of courses that we hope can help these caregivers reconnect with themselves.”

Medi Minder assignments were arranged in conjunction to the session to allow parents to take the time off caring for their children with peace of mind.

The very first session in this series was entitled, “When the going gets tough…coping strategies”, and was led by trainer Imelda Sutisna, Managing Principal Consultant & Master Trainer of JOURNEY Training & Consultancy, who specialises in imparting proven thinking processes to developing capabilities. Imelda has a wealth of experience in psychology and training and development.

By 9am, the HCA Auditorium was transformed into a cosy and welcoming environment with rugs, cushions and snack trays awaiting the parents. Two ladies from the British Association also joined in, very generously preparing an inviting spread of quiche, cake, and scones for refreshments.

When the participants were finally settled comfortably on the rugs and chatting with each other, Imelda began the session with a needs assessment. Working in teams, the parents discussed what sort of courses and sessions would be useful for them – from information on therapy aids like aromatherapy and hydrotherapy, to grooming techniques for the children, to more practical information such as generating passive income.

After this, Imelda moved into relationships – in the theme of Valentine’s Day, which coincided with the workshop. She asked the parents to share with each other the ways they support and strengthen their own relationships. Together, they brainstormed ways to improve their relationships.

Finally, they moved the discussion to brainstorming for ways to make the everyday fun and enjoyable for the whole family.

It became apparent that the parents had many ideas and experiences to share, and many important perspectives for each other to consider. Finally, the session had to come to an end before Imelda could continue on to the topics of adversity. She concluded with a final slide on the ‘Marriage Box':

“Marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full.”‘

The participants most enjoyed learning from other like-minded individuals who had a deep understanding of the challenges they all faced. Although a majority of the parents weren’t acquainted before the session began, they were chatting like old friends and exchanging contacts by the end of the session.

“I’m glad that these parents are given the opportunity today to meet each other,” shared Imelda. ”I’m glad they also had a chance to get a break – some of our participants today seemed rather downcast and tired when they first came in. I also hope they’ll form a supportive network between each other.”

Star PALS would like to thank Imelda and her team of volunteers, as well as the British Association, for making the session a success.

Star PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) is a paediatric palliative care service dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions, in the comfort of their homes. For more information, visit our webpage at www.starpals.sg.