As a community nurse, NC Kalsom Bte Saptu, brings nursing beyond hospital walls. 

20 years into her nursing career, Ms Kalsom Bte Saptu decided to take on the new role of a Community Nurse. “I wanted to learn how to collaborate with community partners as well as to help elderly residents stay healthy and age gracefully in the community. I enjoy the challenge of dealing with their differing healthcare needs,” said the recent winner of the MOH Nurses’ Merit Award.

Her challenge includes helping residents who can no longer care for themselves get the right care.

Recounts Nurse Clinician Kalsom, “I saved the life of an 87-year-old male resident not just once but twice earlier this year.  He suffers from chronic diseases such as stroke and hypertension, but refused to take his medicine on time. I was very concerned about him as he lived alone. During a house visit, I found him sitting on the floor in a pool of urine, and saw bruises and swelling on his left forehead. I called for an ambulance to rush him to hospital. He had fallen, and dislocated his left shoulder and fractured his ribs.

On the day he was discharged, I checked in on him at home. To my horror, I found him on the floor again and got him re-admitted.  I realised he could no longer take care of himself. So I made the necessary arrangements for him to be cared for in a nursing home.”

She was among the pioneer batch of community nurses - then called Patient Navigators - who helped patients with chronic conditions transit smoothly from hospital to the community. The role has now evolved, to help elderly residents (who need not be SGH patients) with medical conditions to live well at home.

NC Kalsom (third from the right) leads a group of nurses to run seven Community Nurse posts in Telok Blangah. Her team has helped 670 elderly residents to date. 

More independent, more resourceful

Indeed, community nursing is a totally different ball game from being a nurse stationed in a hospital.

“Community nurses need to be a lot more independent and resourceful as we are required to make patient care decisions on our own. At the same time, we also need to exercise critical thinking as we have to make right decisions on the spot without compromising the residents’ well-being and safety.”

Ms Kalsom Bte Saptu, Nurse Clinician (Community Nurse), SGH RHS, was awarded the MOH Nurses’ Merit Award in July 2019

Contributing to new knowledge

Her hospital training in SGH also helps her to keep up with academic work even though she is now working in the community.   NC Kalsom was part of a seven-member research team behind a study published in the Singapore Medical Journal in May 2019. It looked into "What do caregivers value and is there agreement in perception of met needs between nurses and caregivers?"

The study found that nurses can help to ease the life of caregivers by providing them with continuous emotional and social support after their loved ones have been discharged from the hospital. This would help caregivers provide better care to their loved ones.

“I also observed that comprehensive discharge planning should include well-structured assessments of caregiver needs. They identify the areas where caregivers require more help. We can then provide targeted interventions to strengthen caregivers’ competence and, in turn, reduce harm to the loved one under their care,” said NC Kalsom.

Helping elderly residents see that life is worth living

“The greatest sense of achievement about being in community nursing, comes from knowing that I have empowered the residents with the know-how to manage their own conditions. As a result, they are able to appreciate their lives more,” said NC Kalsom.

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