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Being a Medical Social Worker...
13 March 2013

By Geraldine Tan

Being a Medical Social Worker in Star PALS means more than providing financial assistance, community resources and counselling to patients and their families.

It also means being a furniture mover, a grocery shopping assistant and a house cleaner.

It means singing silly songs, helping with the cooking and playing Pretend. Memorizing the names of K-Pop celebrities, drawing pictures of lions and monsters and learning how to play football.

Being a Medical Social Worker in Star PALS also means being 24/7 on call, to attend to patients and their families when they need me whether I am in a movie or a meeting, awake or asleep.

It means holding crying mothers tightly as they try to come to terms with the latest medical test results, listening to grieving fathers haltingly tell their stories, and deliberately giving siblings the extra attention and care they inevitably crave. It means knowing that some patients do not have long with us, and giving my heart to them all the same.

Being a Medical Social Worker means incidents like standing in front of our patient's coffin with her mother, at her wake. Her mother clasped my hand in hers and spoke to her child, "Now that you're in heaven, please keep your social worker jie jie safe and happy and healthy always, because she is our angel."

Being a Medical Social Worker means living an experience of loving and being loved so much more in return. It means giving joy and receiving a kind of happiness I never knew I could feel before.

Geraldine Tan, MSW for Star PALS, shared her experiences for an exhibition by Singapore Discovery CentreHope. Heart. Home.Photos were taken by Bob Leefor SDC. The exhibition will be at J CUBE until 15 Jan, and will then move to Temasek Poly, UniSIM HQ, ITE College Central, and Yishun JC.

Find out more about our paediatric palliative care services on www.starpals.sg. Feel free to contact us at communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg should you have any queries. Star PALS is a service by HCA Hospice Care