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The Heart of Charity
31 August 2020

HCA Nurse Educator Amy Lim has a firm belief: “In everything, we must have charity”. This guiding belief has anchored her over the last 30 years of her nursing career. Above: Amy chats with a patient on a home visit.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

Amidst the daily grind of busy work schedules and pressing deadlines, HCA Nurse Educator Amy Lim exudes a rarefied air of serenity and kindness. She is an emblem of compassion, a trait that endears colleagues, collaborators and patients alike.

A veteran nurse with over 30 years of experience, Amy has charted paths in numerous specialties, including gynaecology, aesthetics and palliative care. Despite the diversity of each area of focus, Amy remains rooted to the same principle of relieving suffering and touching lives. “Nursing is never a job,” Amy emphasises. “It is a very sacred channel of blessings, to learn humanity by serving those in sickness, in hopelessness, in pain and in dying.”

Amy speaks with a bereaved family member at HCA’s biannual Sunflower Remembrance Day.

Enriching Minds

Prior to transitioning to her current role as a Nurse Educator – the first of its kind for HCA – in June last year, Amy was heavily involved in numerous conferences and training stints, both locally and overseas. This included regional training on palliative care in Kuching, Jakarta, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, to share her experience and knowledge.  

Amy was also actively involved in the mentoring and training of nurses in Kuching before the official opening of the local Two Tree Lodge Hospice in 2016. Subsequently, she also arranged for them to come over to Singapore for observation in 2018. Despite the geographical distance, she has remained in touch with the nurses in Malaysia and Jakarta. “I think the COVID-19 pandemic presents precious moments for learning and simply holding each other’s hands beyond the border,” Amy shares.

Raising Standards

To do the very best for patients on the final lap of their life journey requires a genuine heart to serve and an unwavering commitment to excellence. To this end, Amy has been actively involved in the Palliative Care Outcome Collaboration project, an ongoing initiative started by the Singapore Hospice Council (SHC).

“I think it is important to have a common language across all organisations relating to patient care and patient assessment,” Amy explains. “This is especially important for patients who are in transit from one institution to another – to ensure that we do not miss out on any necessary actions.”

“In addition, it also enables us to measure outcomes in palliative care in HCA, as well as benchmark it across all other palliative care institutions in Singapore.”

Being an effective educator necessitates both knowledge and tactful sensitivity. “Last year, I conducted a session for the Day Hospice team on infection control and prevention,” Amy explains. “Sometimes we might have patients who have potentially infectious conditions and it could be hurtful if they are singled out for stringent infection control measures.”

“But if the team is taught infection control and prevention measures, and these are universally applied across the board, it would protect both our staff and patients.”

Amy (far right, first row) with other HCA nurses.

As a Nurse Educator, one of Amy’s key responsibilities is to train and mentor new nurses in HCA. Moving forward, she plans to formulate a detailed framework for nursing competencies, to guide new joiners and raise service standards. 

Bringing Comfort

The Vigil Angels volunteer programme is perhaps one of the projects closest to Amy’s heart. Launched in mid-2019, it aims to provide comfort for patients in their actively dying moments and support for their loved ones during this difficult period.

The project encompasses complementary therapies such as aromatherapy and gentle massages to enhance the wellbeing of patients at the end of life. “Research has shown that many terminally ill patients only have a simple wish – to be kept physically clean and comfortable,” Amy explains.

Caregivers of terminally ill patients often struggle with maintaining the cleanliness of their loved ones, especially when patients grow weaker and more vulnerable. The role of a Vigil Angel is to restore that basic human dignity, while being a gentle and reassuring presence to all in the household.

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted several months ago, all assignments were suspended. With the situation slowly coming under control and with the easing of restrictions, Amy plans to work on a set of guidelines to screen and assess risk, before assignments are permitted to resume.

On her journey thus far, Amy reflects: “Knowledge is critical; serving with a heart is imperative. What keeps me going now is gratitude, hunger for creativity and growth and the desire to teach and mentor the younger generation of nurses for succession.”