Catholic News features Assisi Hospice in this series on Catholic social service organisations.
Assisi Hospice provides palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses, caring for them and their families regardless of faith, age, race and financial position.
Mr Kwan Fook Chuen became an orphan when he was seven years old. Growing up without parental love, he eventually met his wife, who was also an orphan like him, in 2004. Marriage life was simple but cosy as they settled down in a two-room rental flat, which they shared with a co-tenant.
Their peaceful life was disrupted when Mr Kwan, now 67, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. Despite the blow, he went through treatment and recovered. However in March 2018, Mr Kwan felt a sharp pain in his leg which affected his movement. To his dismay, he discovered that his cancer had returned and spread to his bones. He had to use a walking stick and could no longer continue working and was unable to support himself and his wife as a result.
Assisi Hospice reached out to Mr Kwan and referred him to its free Home Care service where a nurse visited him regularly and helped with managing his pain. In August 2018, Mr Kwan’s condition deteriorated. He was encouraged to visit the hospice’s Day Care Centre for customised therapy sessions to help him maintain his mobility as much as possible.
Today, he visits the centre regularly on his wheelchair and takes part in therapeutic activities including movement, art and music and interacts with other patients, staff and volunteers.
Assisi Hospice, founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Sisters in 1969, provides palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses, caring for them and their families regardless of faith, age, race and financial position.
“In our history of close to 50 years, we have remained true to our mission as a Catholic charity providing compassionate palliative care to adults and children with life-limiting illness ... our patients are cared for by our team of specialist doctors, nurses, allied health and pastoral care professionals,” said Ms Choo Shiu Ling, CEO of the hospice.
Some of the hospice’s services include Home Care and Day Care for patients living in the community to have access to medical on-call service, by nurses, doctors and social workers who make home visits. In 2017, inpatient dementia and paediatric palliative care were added to the list of services. The paediatric ward acts as a safe haven for children with life-threatening illnesses, who need ongoing medical and nursing care throughout their journey, and at times need care to allow respite for their caregivers.
Other facilities include 85 inpatient beds, a sensory garden, chapel and roof terrace. The hospice serves more than 2,000 patients a year.
Besides medical care, Assisi Hospice also addresses the concerns of patients and their loved ones by attending to their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Counsellors and medical social workers assist with practical solutions to support a patient’s needs or to be that listening ear for emotional support. The clinical pastoral care team acts as pillars of support for patients and their families regardless of faith and beliefs. The FMDM Sisters give their time to befriend patients or assist with administrative work.
Ms Choo said that the hospice “will continue to improve and do better to meet the medical needs and preferences of our patients and families during the most vulnerable time in their lives.”
“Additionally, we will be increasing community engagement to raise awareness on palliative care, as well as organising education and training programmes for the palliative care sector,” she added.
The Assisi Hospice website is http://www.assisihospice.org.sg/.
Patients enjoying their group art therapy session with the hospice’s art therapist.
Mr Kwan Fook Chuen, diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, visits the hospice regularly on his wheelchair and takes part in various therapeutic activities.