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A slanted ray of sunlight
falling across a room, a
flask positioned on an
edge, a disjointed floor
tile — the minutiae of
daily life may seem minor
and unimportant, but reveal a world of
information about a patient’s needs to a
community nurse like Mr Goh Rui Hao.
Looking out for such seeming trivialities
at home is important as they can lead to falls
and injury; attending to them ensures a safe
and accident-free living at home. These are
things that nurses and other healthcare staff
stationed in hospitals are not able to do.
“When I was working in the inpatient
wards, I saw how much my colleagues and I
were doing for patients. But I also wondered
how the patients would be able to cope when
they are discharged. Things happen on the
ground, at home or in the community, so
how will they cope on their own when they age and their conditions advance?”
asked Mr Goh, Senior Staff Nurse
(Community Nurse), PHICO-Community
Nursing, Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
“In the community setting, I can observe
how patients’ actions impact daily life, like
walking or showering. I can see if sunlight
shining through a window affects sleep, or if
they have strong home support.
A turning point came during the COVID-19
pandemic, when Mr Goh was assigned to
dormitories housing migrant workers. “Many
of them were unaware of public health
issues, and became distressed when they
caught COVID. This triggered a desire to
go into community nursing to broaden my
perspectives in healthcare,” Mr Goh added.
Mr Goh feels privileged to “enter”
patients’ personal lives when he sees them at
home. He remembers a cancer patient who,
despite being in pain, confided in Mr Goh
how he wanted to make music at church and touch his friends’ lives. “He played a song
on the keyboard for me and I played a short
tune for him. After this, he was encouraged
to write more songs. It made me reflect
on how much my work can help residents
in small, intangible ways like sharing our
mutual love of music,” said Mr Goh.
Mr Goh also leads the Temasek
Foundation Parkinson’s disease programme
as he had previously worked with inpatients
with neurological conditions. “Under the
programme, Parkinson’s disease patients
learn to handle their symptoms to live safely
and comfortably at home, including reducing
their risks of falling,” he explained.
Mr Goh’s expansive career has found
parallels in a favoured hobby — competitive
fencing, a sport in which he has won a bronze in
the foil category.
Just as an opponent can quickly lunge at
him, a resident can suddenly face multiple
medical issues. “Fencing has trained me to
define my priorities clearly in my daily work,
where I must collate information, decide
which issue to resolve first, then explain
the reasoning behind these decisions to the
resident,” said Mr Goh.
The joy of partaking in fencing and
making music resonates with Mr Goh’s future
vision as well as that of those he serves. “To
me, community nursing means empowering
the community to manage their health and
giving them care and concern so they can
lead fulfilling lives with positive attitudes that
touch others in the community,” said Mr Goh.
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