We will all need to help each other out

At Jaga-Me Medical Home Care, my job scope is basically doing home-to-home medical procedures from any referrals by hospitals which are referred by the doctors. We are trained to do medical procedures like nasogastric insertion, whereby patients who are unable to eat orally and have difficulties swallowing, thus requiring long-term tube-feeding with enteral feeds. We also do medical procedures like stoma dressing change, wound management, and we specialised in Intravenous Therapy like Total Parental Nutrition (where fluids are given into a vein to provide most of the nutrients the body needs), which is the main medical procedure offered by Jaga-Me Pte Ltd.



Most of our clients and patients who are on IV therapy are cancer patients. We take care of these end-of-life patients and are reviewed by our nurses to seek health guidance towards end-of-life care at home. Having to pass on in the hospital bed can be quite tragic for the family because of the environment, therefore most cancer patients would opt to pass on at home. For me, I mostly review cancer patients referred by the Singapore Cancer Society and other hospices like HCA Hospice Care, Oncocare and from hospital referrals. This is part of my regular duties. These cancer patients whose homes I would go to, have very low, compromised immunity and they cannot have any new bacteria or viruses entering their homes. Every new client I see, I will reassure them about what I do, and mostly to correct their assumptions.



For me there’s not much struggle and stuff. How we handle the struggles is how we work out of it. The main thing for me is assumptions. Because some of them will say, “eh you very young boy, are you experienced? How long you work already?”. So if you strike me with that kind of question, which I overcome so many times when I was struck with that question, I will reset myself and re-introduce myself again.



Right now, the priority is the COVID-19 cases, and I am tasked to handle them. We have another team that will only see the cancer patients because some of the staff are pregnant and have family and then some of them also have elderly at home. For me, I’m single and my family are well so I think that for me it isn’t a problem. 



When COVID-19 came into the picture, I totally became a very obsessive-compulsive person. Even though you want to take the bus, you just feel like you don’t want to sit down but to remain standing. Because back in February to March, we didn’t know much about the virus. Only after going through the journal papers and articles to determine why the virus is so infectious, then we realised that okay, we don’t have to be so OCD, we just need to be wary of what we come into contact with.


Initially when this Circuit Breaker came into my life, for us healthcare workers, we needed to adapt to the changes. Because of my job, in my house, everyone tries to remain in their own room, we don’t dare to go out. Perhaps only during the time we break our fast. Even then we eat at different tables — my mom will eat at the kitchen, my brother will eat at the dining table or his room, and I will eat in my room.



When I’m outside I would never wear my uniform. Only upon reaching the client’s house or place of accommodation then I will wear my uniform. So when the Grab driver comes, I would be in my home clothes but then upon reaching I would wear my scrub. At the point of time, no time for the Grab driver to question me “oh you nurse ah you nurse ah?”. It helps to alleviate their anxiety. And then also for my own sake too. We wear uniform outside throughout, the germs may stick on to our uniform. So it’s best to only wear before we enter the house. Then if I exit the house, I would disinfect my hands with Dettol and clean my uniform.


Also everywhere we go we need to monitor our hand-washing, hygiene, and what not. And you know this situation, when we work from home, even though I don’t work from home, I still follow up from my laptop on those patients. I mean like it’s really true that this virus is very mutative, and also very infectious than other coronavirus that we have had. For me I see people blaming each other when people contracted the virus. They blame those people that they have contacted with.



I believe that if you are a good person, the good person in you will 100% come out, and if you are a bad person, you will know it as well. All will become flowers and bloomers. In my company, everyone will look out for each other and ask each other if they are okay, got fever or not. Thankfully I’m a nurse so my family will be equipped with a lot of mask to give friends and family. They will bring out the best of us if we tend to help each other. So far not so bad experiences. All good.


One very memorable experience I had during this COVID-19 period was when I was going to an elderly nursing home to do surveillance swab test on 40 staff. I was actually only tasked to help out for 1-2 hours, but I ended up staying for 4 hours as there were many things that required to be done properly. It was hectic as the 40 staff were not practicing safe social distancing, and I had to multi-task between coordinating the name list with the chief nurse, and handling some of the staff that wanted to take pictures of the swab test procedures. I was doing 4 things at once at one point even, but I remained calm. My colleague even ask me to yell to maintain order, but then I felt that it was unnecessary — all eyes would be on me and the more you shout, the more staff won’t cooperate.



One thing I’ve learned out of all this is to have patience. Because of the Circuit Breaker extension, you need to take it positive. Being patient to stay at home and not go out. Being patient with other staff who are very panicky and don’t know how to handle this situation properly. If the person is very panicky, we cannot follow in their footsteps and be panicky and scold them. For me it feels that we need to be calm and patient, and we will go through this together. The friends that you have, the supportive bosses and understanding managers also would really help you through this situation, together with the continuous reassurance of your spouses and partners. Our patients and clients are also very understanding, they will give compliments here and there. These people keep us going.


The sad part of this COVID-19 period is that I never get to meet my partner. I mean I’m here with my family. But even though just a few blocks away, we still cannot meet. You know that kind of thing is so painful. It’s not like our friends who are married, their spouses are at home, working from home.  I cannot even go and see my friends you know. That one is very heartbreaking. So I think most of us will be dealing with this in phases of the Circuit Breaker that we will all need to help each other out on this part.



I believe we can overcome this crisis as we have pharmaceuticals doing the vaccines, and we also have good bilateral relations with countries like India. We have got a lot of countries helping us too. Once the vaccines are ready, all Singaporeans will then have themselves vaccinated with other flu strains, we can happily travel anywhere we want. One thing to look out of this dark tunnel is the vaccine.



I mean for me I feel fortunate lah I got this job. I think government is doing it like working from home, and can study new courses online, and get a new set of skills for the future. I mean we need to readapt our 2020 new year resolution and rethink and reset again to a new set of goals and achievements that we want to achieve this year. 


Shukrie

Jaga-Me is a healthcare platform that enables patients and their families to obtain holistic healthcare in the comfort of their own home, by harnessing a curated network of Singapore-registered nurses, caregivers, doctors and therapists. Find out more about Jaga-Me here: https://www.jaga-me.com/