Helping palliative care patients and their families make the most out of life
Kate Burke, our Charities Co-ordinator, visited the headquarters of HCA Hospice Care and Star PALS to learn more about the work of this charity, one of the five charities supported by the British Association.
VISION OF Star PALS
Our vision is to be the centre of excellence for paediatric palliative care in Singapore. We aim to achieve this with a novel care model - one that builds on the existing services for palliative care while incorporating elements to meet the unique needs of children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
Making the most of every moment
Have you ever stopped to think what in your life is most precious to you, what you value most, how you want to be remembered? For people facing a life limiting illness and their families, these questions have an immediacy many of us can only imagine.
For the past two years, the BA has been supporting Star PALS, a paediatrics palliative care service for children under the age of 19. The service is provided by HCA Hospice Care (HCA). A key goal of HCA and Star PALS is to provide multi-disciplinary home hospice care. Teams of Star PALS doctors, nurses, social workers and volunteers “serve with love and hope in mind” to ensure that younger patients can spend their last days at home, in comfort and with their families. HCA also provides home hospice care for adult patients, alongside day hospice centres.
A central aspect of their work is the recognition that palliative care for both adult and child patients is not just about meeting medical needs, it is also about giving patients and their families the opportunity to focus on the activities and goals that are most important and meaningful to them.
Simple things can mean so much...
In practice, this can mean arranging seemingly simple or ordinary things. A new haircut, a day out with friends or an exercise class. They also help patients leave a very personal legacy for their families by arranging professional photography portraits of patients with their loved ones and recipe books compiling a patient’s signature dishes.
To provide these essential medical and other services to patients, both HCA and Star PALS rely on financial donations and volunteers.
Mel Basuki, the Fundraising Manager, and Vicki Sim, the Senior Volunteer Coordinator at HCA say that there are lots of opportunities for volunteers regardless of their skills or availability. Roles range from helping out at a one-off event to committing to a year or more of weekly visits to a family providing respite care. They are also looking for people with special skills, like photography, graphic design or hairdressing and beauty services.
So whatever your skills and availability, there are likely to be opportunities that would suit you, whether it be cooking lunch for day centre patients, driving patients to medical appointments, or working as a befriender to a patient and their family.
Vicki and Mel confirmed that volunteers find there is something intrinsically valuable and rewarding in helping patients stay not just alive, but also living a full life, for as long as they can.
Inspired to volunteer?
The first step is to register with HCA and Star PALS via their websites. They will then get in touch to get a better idea of your interests, skills and availability and schedule an orientation. There are volunteering opportunities to suit all interests and skills.
Befrienders help out with patients and their families at their homes or the HCA day hospice centres.
Therapy and Activity Assistants
Volunteers with special skills such as translation, copywriting, website management, photography, videography and graphic design.
Medi-Minders receive training to help take care of young patients being supported by Star PALS.