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Most of us who have interacted with the elderly know that they are often generous in giving care and concern, and have plenty of inspiring stories to tell. At the same time, we may also notice their slower movements that may arise because of age. Some of them even have chronic ailments that affect their quality of life.
The good thing is that with a little nudge in the right direction, they can continue to provide their wisdom, and more importantly, lead healthy and dignified lives. This is where the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and their Community Care partners come into the picture.
Essentially, AIC empowers seniors and their caregivers with information on staying active and ageing well, and connects them to services they need by building the linkage to a relevant Community Care organisation. The work of AIC has never been more important, especially with Singapore facing an ageing population.
St Luke’s ElderCare (SLEC) Ang Mo Kio Day Rehabilitation Centre, one of AIC’s partners in the Community Care sector, is where Qi Jin Ming works as a physiotherapist. A recipient of the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA), he rehabilitates clients, who are seniors who may be afflicted with conditions ranging from stroke, Parkinson’s disease and fractures, and helps them regain their mobility.
What drew him to become a physiotherapist was his ambition to provide care for the elderly, and the desire to have a hands-on career that was not desk-bound, while allowing him to have closer interactions with people.
He chose to work in the Community Care sector, which provides a variety of intermediate and long-term care services for people who require further care and treatment after being discharged from a general hospital. It also serves seniors living in the community who may need support with their daily activities.
“The continuum of care [in a Community Care setting] attracted me the most. There are opportunities for us to better understand our clients, their psychosocial environment and support systems and provide holistic treatment care plans that are customised to help them in the longer run,” he explained.
“With the regular follow-ups and regular physiotherapy sessions, improvements in the mobility of my clients can be seen. These include improved strength, balance, and most importantly, quality of life. While these might not be observable in the acute sector (where a patient receives active but short-term treatment), such effects tend to be observable over a long-term basis.”
Jin Ming entered the Community Care sector as a physiotherapist in 2018. With SLEC’s support, he was awarded the CCMDA in 2019 to complete his degree conversion with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
On the award, he said, “SLEC supported me financially during my schooling years, and this enabled me to focus on my studies. When I resumed work after graduation, SLEC did not hesitate to sign me up for training courses specific to Community Care.”
He added, “I have worked in SLEC for two years after completing my degree course. Being an organisation that nurtures learning among staff, SLEC still supports me in attending courses to understand more about areas related to my work. The courses I have taken include Parkinson’s disease and its effects on a client’s rehab journey, caring for clients living with dementia, conducting group exercises for the elderly, and many more, all of which are on topics essential for a Community Care physiotherapist. All these help keep my skillsets and knowledge current, and enable me to better support my client’s rehabilitation journey.”
Jin Ming is extensively involved in multi-disciplinary teams to render comprehensive care for the elders. Beyond supporting his clients during their day therapy rehabilitation sessions, Jin Ming also coordinates the day-to-day operations at St Luke’s ElderCare Ang Mo Kio Day Rehabilitation Centre. He and the physiotherapy associates and therapy aides discuss best practices and share updates about the progress or difficulties that their clients may be facing with their rehabilitation sessions. He also provides training to his team where necessary.
“There was once I stepped in to provide a comprehensive training course on the manual handling and transfer of bed-bound residents (based in nursing homes) for our care partners. The course was conducted to ensure that they maintained safety standards in handling the mobility aspects of our nursing home residents, and are competent in using assistive devices like the hoist,” he elaborated.
One of the most gratifying moments that Jin Ming experienced in his career was getting a personal recommendation from his former client, a testament to the high level of care and treatment he provides.
“During the first time I met this client, she shared that she was strongly recommended to attend therapy at the day rehabilitation centre I was based in because her friend had drastically improved under my care,” he beamed.
“Within two months after this new client joined me at SLEC, her function had improved significantly. Her cognition is now better, and she is able to walk longer distances more confidently.”
Jin Ming is grateful to get the opportunity to serve in Community Care.
“I will sum up my experience in Community Care in just one word: rewarding,” emphasised Jin Ming.
“To see my clients improve from using a walking frame to being able to walk without any walking aid is very heartening. It is also a very humbling role to play, as most of the clients are older than me. They are always very willing to share their wisdom with us despite their illness or disability. Therapy sessions are never boring nor mundane.”
He urged those who are considering a career in Community Care to intern, or apply for a job shadowing programme at an organisation under the AIC network, such as SLEC, to understand the job scope and requirements. They can also consider kickstarting their career in Community Care with a Community Care Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded by MOH Holdings in partnership with AIC, to develop future leaders for the growing Community Care sector.
Concluded Jin Ming, “There is a myriad of developmental opportunities to grow holistically as an individual, and to impact lives around you.”
This article was first published in BrightSparks Magazine July 2022. Republished with permission from CareerBuilder Singapore