Mr Steven Chan, Singapore Health Inspirational Caregiver Award recipient, shares his experience of caring for his ailing father-in-law.


“Leading to the year 2019, my wife and I, with blessings from my parents, persistently persuaded my father-in-law to move in with us as he had suffered many falls. He was ill at that time with venous leg ulcers, congestive heart failure, diabetes and kidney disease. We felt that he needed closer attention and care.

Trained as a medic during my National Service, I was equipped with basic wound care knowledge, and could clean and dress his leg ulcers regularly. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, they were not healing well. Determined to find him some reprieve, I scoured medical journals for a solution and came across some articles that recommended silver dressing for wounds. The antibacterial quality of the silver dressing enabled his wounds to heal well for some time.

My friend, who is a doctor, once told me this, “When we take care of end-of-life patients, we must bear in mind that what they want is more important than what we want for them.” With this philosophy in mind, I focus on keeping my 85-year-old father-in-law happy and respect his wishes, instead of imposing my own beliefs on him.

He is a man of few words, but I often engage him with jokes and play games using old photos to jog his memory. Sometimes I will suddenly appear in front of him and ask if he recognizes me. I love hearing his hearty laughter fill the room!

My wife, helper and mother-in-law also help to take on the caregiving responsibilities, so that all of us have time for ourselves and not burn out.

I admire the professionalism displayed by the vascular team at SGH who takes care of my father-in-law’s chronic leg ulcer. On days when I was not able to be at the hospital, they would take pictures of his wound and contact me on my mobile phone to pass me specific instructions, or to highlight areas I needed to take care of. Their affirmation and assurance also gave me the strength to continue this journey of caring for my father-in-law.

This journey has reinforced my belief that family comes first. I believe every family member has a role to play in taking care of our loved ones. We should stop saying that we don’t know what to do, but rather ask what we can do.”

Excerpt from 2021 Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Award Booklet. Read the full story here.

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