Let’s talk palliative care

25 October 2017 | Community
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A participant writing on a Before-I-Die board

In hopes of evoking reflections and sparking conversations on end-of-life care, a group of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine students organised a Life Stories Exhibition on palliative care from 21 to 22 October at the Toa Payoh Hub Atrium. Themed “Adding Life to Days”, the event is part of an on-going student-initiated public education project on palliative care called “Project Happy Apples”.

The exhibition consisted a variety of elements, such as the Life Stories of Patients segment which collated the legacies and life experiences of palliative care patients and how they coped, as well as interactive components such as Telephone Booth — an immersive auditory experience where visitors could listen in on a simulated decision-making process people face towards the end of their lives. Other activities involved Before-I-Die boards which encouraged the public to reflect on their lives and pen down their personal aspirations, as well as thoughts on end-of-life care; an educational wall mural; talks and performances.

We hope to engage the public and educate them about palliative care, highlighting its purpose and significance while correcting any misconceptions people may hold.

“We hope to engage the public and educate them about palliative care, highlighting its purpose and significance while correcting any misconceptions people may hold,” said Year 3 NUS Medicine student Tay Kuang Teck, who is the head of the student organising committee. The students also hope to encourage people to start conversations on end-of-life care and inspire them to live life to the fullest.

The idea for the exhibition arose from the students’ interactions with palliative care patients while they were part of a befriending programme run in collaboration with HCA Hospice Care and the Motor Neurone Disease Support Group — National Neuroscience Institute.

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A participant viewing one of the Life Stories of Patients

Dr Noreen Chan, Head of the Division of Palliative Care at the National University Cancer Institute and advisor to the students explained that the project seeks to emphasise that palliative care is about living the best we can.

“Through the befriending programme, the volunteers come to appreciate how we can support one another as fellow human beings. The Life Stories Exhibition is about having those important conversations about what really matters, which is another way of celebrating our lives, because every person, and every person's story, is unique,” she said.

Apart from the befriending programme, the students in Project Happy Apples actively try to engage the public and educate them about end-of-life care. Prior to this inaugural exhibition, they displayed Before-I-Die boards at various shopping malls.

The Life Stories Exhibition was officially opened on 21 October by the Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport, Dr Lam Pin Min.