Medical Social Worker Ms Eunice Chin supports patients and caregivers emotionally, and links them to resources for social, financial and other care-related assistance.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Eunice Chin (pictured below) and her team of Medical Social Workers would visit patients and their family members at the wards to interact with them and build rapport. She is the Team Lead and Manager of the Department of Medical Social Services at Bright Vision Hospital (BVH), which is managed under SingHealth Community Hospitals.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we made it a point to meet with every patient because some of them might have problems that they might not have shared with the clinical staff,” she said.

Ms Chin and her team also conduct psychosocial assessments to better understand how to assist these patients.

“For example, with patients who had suffered a stroke, we would find out how their family is coping, and if they are struggling to reconcile with losses of sorts, including the loss in mobility and functions. Sometimes, patients may also have other underlying issues that can affect his or her psychological well-being,” Ms Chin said.

Some of these issues may include parenting, marital or financial difficulties, which Ms Chin would then refer to social services agencies for better management.

A team effort

Ms Chin likens her work to the “social arm” in patient care, where she works alongside a multidisciplinary team comprising doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to care for patients.

The multidisciplinary team meets regularly to communicate information such as patients’ discharge plans so that all members have a holistic understanding of patients’ needs and condition.

To improve the emotional well-being of patients and their caregivers, Ms Chin would conduct regular group sessions to engage them in fun activities.

One example is the Reminiscence Therapy sessions that Ms Chin and her colleagues used to run before the pandemic hit. During these sessions, Medical Social Workers would engage the elderly patients by displaying and showing pictures of vintage collectibles to evoke their memories and nostalgia, and spark conversations. “This encourages patients to take a walk down memory lane, and allows us to better connect with them when they share their stories with us,” Ms Chin said.

Ms Chin and her team also ran quarterly memorial services for bereaved families whose loved ones had passed on in BVH. “We want to let them know that their loved ones are remembered while also bringing some closure for the family,” she explained.

“These memorial services are always very emotional and meaningful for family members. For the team, it is also meaningful and gratifying knowing that we can make a difference to both patients and their families,” she said.

Overcoming challenges

Ms Chin has been working at BVH for 10 years, during which she has been through her fair share of challenges.

When the hospital was converted into a COVID-19 Care Facility in April 2020, Ms Chin and the other Medical Social Workers were part of the team of frontliners who were tasked to care for COVID-19 patients. During that period, many of the patients were migrant workers. It was especially challenging due to the language barrier, as some did not understand English.

“We had to find creative ways to work around this situation. For example, we used Google Translate when translators were not available. Colleagues who could speak the respective languages also stepped forward to help. With time, a rapport was built with the patients, and we were able to connect better with them during that difficult period.”

Despite these challenges, Ms Chin is passionate about helping patients. She credits her team for supporting her through both good and tough times. “I am thankful to my team. We believe in working hard and helping one another. With this spirit, we can achieve more.”

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