The first of a two-part training series for MS Care volunteers gets underway.
Contributed by Cara Ang
| CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
City Harvest Community Services Association established MS Care in 1996, a service that offers support for people living with Multiple Sclerosis.
By raising awareness of MS and raising funds for patients, MS Care seeks to provide moral support and a listening ear by setting up a 24-hour hotline to bridge the gap between MS Care and its members. Patients diagnosed with MS who face financial difficulties can also turn to MS Assistance Fund to purchase their prescribed medication.
MS Care also provides opportunity for patients to build meaningful relationships with others suffering from the same condition through befriending programs. This helps the patients to achieve a sense of acceptance and self-worth. In order to equip volunteers, training sessions on medical care updates and the impact of MS on patients are regularly conducted to teach volunteers how to better care for MS patients.
A training session was held on July 6 for 40 volunteers from MS Care. This was the first of a two-part series of training.
Matthew Ng, a full-time social worker, shared with the volunteers that he derived inspiration from how MS patients can remain positive even when they are faced with challenges in life, and how they can grow from these challenges. Ng revealed that he considers every patient a champion, one who is faced with the uncertainty of illness, yet has the courage to find new meaning in a life with MS.
Another volunteer, Karen Chong, 26, a property consultant, stated that the key quality of a committed volunteer is the ability to build a relationship with the patient. She described building relationships as a flower going through a process of budding; it takes a period of time for a flower to bloom. One very significant experience of hers was with a Malay patient who encourages Chong every time she visits. “You may think that you are giving, but you end up being the one receiving from the patient as you relate to them.”
Even though they are different in race and religion, the one common denominator that MS Care has among its volunteers and patients is, without doubt, love.
Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that affects a person’s central nervous system and can cause significant nerve damage. The severity of the disease and effects varies greatly between individuals—from mild to severe and disabling. These include dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of balance, inability to walk, and paralysis.
Symptoms of visual changes generally first appear between the ages of 20 and 40.
In the early stages of the disease, symptoms are often mild, vague and may disappear and reappear during periods of relapse. Multiple tests need to be conducted to rule out other conditions that can be confused with multiple sclerosis.
Currently, there is no medical cure for the condition, but the disease can be managed and symptoms can be controlled to various degrees of success with a variety of medications.