Being there through good and bad times

By Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications

When her teenage sons turned 20 and 15, home-maker Khairina Ng decided she would find part-time work to occupy her time. 

She chanced upon an opportunity with the Singapore Red Cross’ (SRC) Medical Chaperone and Transportation (MCT) service. Armed with the experience of caring for her 85-year-old mother, Khairina joined as a Medical Chaperone in March 2019, and has not looked back since. 

As a Medical Chaperone, Khairina accompanies seniors for their medical appointments. She meets them at their homes, and brings them to the hospitals, and back home again. Most of her clients are wheelchair-bound elderly with various medical conditions. She has also attended to a stroke patient in her 40s. 

“Many clients tell me that prior to discovering SRC’s MCT, they often skipped their medical appointments as it was too inconvenient and costly to commute to and from the hospital. The hospitals would direct them to the Agency for Integrated Care, which then referred them to SRC’s MCT. The clients are usually very grateful for the company and transport,” Khairina explained.

Providing a listening ear

Being there for the clients means Khairina forges a rapport with the clients whom she spends time with. Some of them would share their life stories with her. 

“I let my clients lead the conversations, I listen and do not probe. Most of them share their personal lives, family, and yesteryears at the third or fourth meeting,” she shared. 

Empathising with what her clients are going through, Khairina shares their pain, joy and laughter. For example, she felt a client’s pain of enduring many injections when the doctors and nurses made numerous attempts to draw blood from him over six hours. In another instance, Khairina feared for a beneficiary’s well-being when he had to undergo an eye surgery to prevent his other eye from turning blind.

“We were all worried for him when he had to undergo the eye surgery. During his first medical check-up after the surgery, we were so happy for him when he could read the alphabets! It was rewarding to know that I helped beneficiaries like him!” she quipped.

There was also a heartbreaking moment when she learnt that a client whom she had served had passed away. Ever the professional, Khairina took it in her stride, knowing that many other seniors depended on her.

Going the extra mile 

The Medical Chaperone attends to each client’s needs and offers help wherever possible. There were a number of occasions when she went beyond her call of duty. To better communicate with a beneficiary who was deaf and blind, she even went the extra mile to enroll in a sign language course. Though she stopped attending the course to attend to matters at home, she hopes to resume as she found it very useful and interesting. There were also times when the clients asked her to bring them to the bank or run some errands. In another instance, she had to clean an elderly beneficiary who soiled herself.

Drawing life lessons

Working as a Medical Chaperone has been an eye-opening experience for Khairina, as she stepped into the lives of people outside her circle of family and friends. Through these experiences, she drew inspiration from her clients who displayed resilience, independence and positivity. She also learnt to take care of her health by eating healthily. 

“I began to listen, empathise and withhold first-impression judgements as every client has his or her own story to tell. I also became more patient amid the long-waiting times, and the times when I felt pressured to deliver.  By interacting with the clients, I understand their needs. It’s nice to do something for them, and that keeps me going!” she affirmed.

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Singapore Red Cross’ Medical Chaperone and Transportation service is still ongoing amidst COVID-19.