As 2020 draws to an end, I cannot help but feel a conflicting sense of apprehension and hope for the New Year ahead. Will the COVID-19 situation continue? What new challenges and opportunities await in 2021?
During this time, it is the patients and families that I work with, who continually remind me to focus on the here and now. For instance, during a visit to a terminally ill patient’s home, Mr Shaun*, who is bedbound, shared with me that even though he had difficulty going about his activities of daily living and was confined to a bed, he believed that each day is a blessing.
Mr Shaun went on to share that he used to be a volunteer in various charities, helping to distribute food to needy, elderly folks. Even though he cannot continue his volunteering work, he believes it is important to contribute and give in any way that he can. Therefore, Mr Shaun has begun praying for the elderly and the volunteers who have taken over his duties. He believes that even though he cannot give much physically now, the least he can do is to remember them in his prayers.
Another caregiver I met also shared about his journey of giving back, after his father passed away. Mr Ismail* related how the experience of caring for his late father has provided him with not just the practical knowledge and skills to care for elderly patients, it has also given him a deeper insight and understanding of the emotions that patients and caregivers feel, when confronted with end-of-life matters.
Mr Ismail shared how his father had always taught him to give back, in the form of gifts bestowed upon him and to be gracious. This spurred Mr Ismail to begin thinking about a career switch to a helping profession. For a start, Mr Ismail has begun volunteering with HCA, assisting with various ad-hoc duties, such as ferrying patients in his car and also helping out on patient outings and activities in the HCA Day Hospice. Mr Ismail cites his father as the main inspiration to embark on the journey to help others. He goes on to share that it was a friend who recommended him to consider volunteering and subsequently, he contacted the primary care nurse who cared for his father to find out how he could volunteer for HCA.
Both Mr Shaun and Mr Ismail remind me to focus on what we have now, especially when times are tough. To focus on what we can change, to focus on the small victories and to ask ourselves: “Despite all the difficulties and challenges, what keeps us going?”
As the seasons and holidays come and go, let us remember the resilience that got us through the difficulties of 2020, our awareness of the here and now and let us continue to look to the future with hope.