A recent seminar on palliative care was conducted to equip City Harvest Chinese Church members to deal with terminally-ill individuals.
A dignified death is the desire of many elderly persons. Gaining knowledge of how to conduct good palliative care for one’s grandparents, parents or even spouse can go a long way to helping a caregiver provide a pain-free, peaceful environment for his terminally-ill loved one .
To provide such training, City Harvest’s Chinese Church invited Carolyn Ng, a Senior Counselor with the Children’s Cancer Foundation to speak to its members on Mar. 17 at the church’s Jurong West premises.
Adaptation is the initial stage of palliative care. Ng told her audience: “It is very important for us to learn to bring to acceptance the truth of any diagnosis, especially for illnesses which are more critical.”
At the same time, there are many patients who are often sandwiched between the decision to seek medical treatment and the hefty financial bill which may be a burden to their family.
As a Christian speaking to a Christian crowd, Ng pointed out the importance for counselors to be sensitive to the emotional voices of the patients. “There are Christian counselors who are overly-eager in sharing the Gospel. That results in the counselor seeming unsympathetic and patients feeling misunderstood.We need to remember that in the midst of encouraging the patient, we need to provide, foremost, a listening ear.”
“Through this course, I now understand the psychological and physical turmoil for the patients and their family members at different stages of illness,” said attendee Low Shan Min, 29, a connect group leader in Chinese Church. “I am now more prepared should I be placed in a situation with people going through the final stages of their lives.” Ng reminded the group of the importance to be consistent in the care given to the patient and family. Inconsistency in actions can result inadverse emotions, such as the patient or family feeling abandoned.
Using Biblical principles, Ng gave the attendees seven pointers: how to give support at a patient’s final stage of life; giving and receiving forgiveness; reconciliation; family support; emotional support; physical support; mental and spiritual support.
Ng explained that one of the ways to minister effectively is to ask the right questions, such as, “What have you been praying for?” Such questions can help the counselor know how to pray for the patient and to understand patient’s current emotional state of mind. Spending time discovering patients’ pasts, listening to their anxieties and fears, helping patients fulfill wishes—these are the sorts of practical support a counselor can give.
“When I handle such cases, there are many times I do feel at a loss of the right words to bring support to the person suffering from the illness,” said Chia Kah Tian, 40, a marketing manager. “This course helps me how to understand the importance of giving a listening ear and avoiding questions which are insensitive. Helping fulfill unfulfilled wishes before a patient’s death is also very important.”
ABOUT CAROLYN NG
She is a Senior Counselor at the Children’s Cancer Foundation for patients and their families to provide services on peace of convalescence, death and bereavement counseling. Currently she is a registered counselor with Singapore Association of Counseling. She is a recognized scientist with International Death Studies. She also has many years of counseling experience dealing with juvenile delinquency, marital conflicts, domestic violence and mental health cases.
In August, Ng will be speaking on a brand new topic on “Overcoming Grief & Losses”. Courses are conducted in Mandarin.