Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth,
CEOs and leaders,
Inspirational patients and caregivers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today for the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2023. It is heart-warming to see all of you gathered here to celebrate our extraordinary awardees for their courage, resilience, and tenacity.
2 Each and every one of our patients and caregivers here today demonstrated a strong fighting spirit in the face of health challenges, that have inspired their doctors, nurses, and care teams. Even as you grappled with life-changing medical diagnoses and toiling rounds of treatments, the uncertainty and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, or the challenges of advocating and caring for your loved ones, you did not give up. Your stories of courage, perseverance and strength are an inspiration for everyone, and affirm our conviction to continue making a difference in the lives of our patients and their families.
3 Let me take this opportunity to share some of these stories.
Inspirational patients with a heart for others
4 One of our Inspirational Patient awardees is Mr Kang Yong Hui. He was diagnosed with spinal cord compression after surviving a crash in 2020, which left him mostly bedbound. Despite his personal struggles, Mr Kang still managed to inspire others through his positivity, strength and kindness. During the daily check-in sessions, he would help to lighten the load of his care team by consolidating and communicating all his needs. Seeing that the nurses were stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he took time to provide them with a listening ear and lifted their spirits with light-hearted jokes. Through his perseverance, Mr Kang is now able to sit up and has regained some use of his right hand. We wish him all the best in his recovery.
5 Another individual receiving the Inspirational Patient Award is Ms Cheryl Tan Shi Ying. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was 24 years old. She lost the ability to walk and had to learn to use a motorised wheelchair to get around. Despite this, Cheryl was determined to remain independent. She found employment with Tower Transit as a Customer Experience & Inclusivity Officer, where she helps other wheelchair-users regain confidence in taking public transport. Cheryl continues to be a passionate advocate for inclusivity for persons with disabilities and is actively involved in her patient support group.
6 Cheryl, amongst others, will also be receiving the Partner-in-Care Award today. This award recognises the active partnership between patients and healthcare teams. We hope to form more of such strong partnerships. An example would be SingHealth’s Patient Advocacy Network, where patients and caregivers serve as Patient Advocates, and collaborate with healthcare teams to enhance the patient experience and quality of care. I would like to thank SingHealth for their hard work in creating opportunities for such partnerships to grow and thrive. Together, we can build a more resilient ecosystem of care, where patients, families, and healthcare teams work together to help everyone live healthier and happier lives.
Our selfless and inspirational caregivers
7 Let me introduce some of our Inspirational Caregivers who are present today. Our caregivers stand beside our patients, journeying with them through their ups and downs, as they tirelessly care and advocate for their loved ones. Not only do they dedicate themselves to their families, they have also gone the extra mile to empower and support other families going through similar challenges. I would like to share the stories of two of our Inspirational Caregiver awardees with you.
8 Ms Elaine Ng’s three-year-old daughter, Sophie, suffers from a rare skin condition called Netherton’s Syndrome, which causes flaky, red, and raw-looking skin. Sophie is one of only five patients in Singapore with the condition, and there was a lack of support groups and accessible information on it. Elaine took it upon herself to learn more about Sophie’s condition, to better advocate for her needs with Sophie’s care team. Today, she is an EXCO member of the Rare Skin Conditions Society Singapore and advocates for others with rare skin conditions, serving as an invaluable pillar of support for many families.
9 Ms Nur Aqilah is another notable caregiver receiving the Inspirational Caregiver Award today. Her mother has pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare heart disease. From the young age of four, Aqilah witnessed her mother endure episodes of coughing, vomiting and frequent breathing difficulties due to her condition. She started caring for her mother in her teenage years, learning more advanced caregiving skills over time, such as administering medication through an IV. Aqilah’s experiences inspired her to pursue nursing as a career. With her rich experiences as a caregiver, I am confident that Aqilah will become an outstanding nurse in the future.
10 Caregivers like Elaine and Aqilah have shown us that caregiving is hard work, but we do not have to do it alone. It heartens me to see so many experienced caregivers reaching out to newcomers to empower and support them on their journeys. Over the weekend, I attended the launch of AIC’s Caregiving Campaign, and witnessed how different sectors of society can come together to recognise and support our caregivers too. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the many caregiver support initiatives by AIC and community partners, and is aptly titled, “We See You Care”. Indeed, caregivers play important roles in our families and societies. Let us come together – family, fellow caregivers, and the community – to support them. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to care for our vulnerable loved ones. Let’s all continue to look out for each other and work together to make our communities stronger, healthier, and happier.
11 In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all our award recipients today. You have demonstrated resolve and bravery in your journeys, uplifting us with your positivity and passion. Thank you for being our inspirational patients and caregivers.