When Alvin Lau found out about his mother’s diagnosis he was grateful despite the grief. He was grateful for the chance to care for his mother. He knew that he had to endure the test with the requisite patience and fortitude.

Alvin Website

Alvin had just begun his new job in July of 2018 when he found out his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Changi General Hospital referred SCS Hospice Care Services to Alvin.

“SCS supplied a donated motorised hospital bed, and alternating pressure mattress, to the home. Senior Staff Nurse Suhaila also arranged for Senior Physiotherapist Zoe Ang from SATA CommHealth to visit our home to advise us on the installation of the grab bars provided under the HDB EASE programme. She also offered to refer me to a counsellor who can provide support to caregivers,” said Alvin.

As a caregiver, it was mentally and physically taxing for Alvin. But still he managed to provide the best possible care to his mother. “My mother would often receive relatives and friends, until she became too weak to entertain them. Even on the night before her death, she opened her eyes for a brief moment to apologize to her visitors for not being able to entertain them,” said Alvin. He often took the opportunity to do household chores, and run errands, while the visitors kept an eye on his mother.

He tried to manage his job while taking care of his mother. However, by early 2019, her vomiting and fever became too frequent and he was not able to leave her alone at home. She was hospitalised 4 times that year. By mid-2019, he took no pay leave for the rest of the year, as her obstipation, frequent fever and vomiting, back pain, poor appetite and cachexia required him to be by her side at home with her.

Alvin’s mother passed away just few days after the shoot for this article.

In the final 11 days of her life, Alvin's mother required round the clock care at home. She was unable to hold down any food or water for the last 4 days of her life. She was severely dehydrated and disoriented at times. “At one point, mum was vomiting so frequently, I ran out of plastic bags and paper to clean her. The vomiting was so severe and frequent, that I ran out of clean clothes and bed linen on the second night. She had lost 36 Kg and could no longer fit into her clothes,” said Alvin.

The team from SCS Hospice Care Services regularly telephoned him and visited his mother and the SCS Hospice doctor was able to better manage her pain. The team also provided sufficient information and crucial contact details to him.

“The purple SCS folder, given by the SCS Hospice team, had all the contact details of service providers. This was most useful. When my mother breathed her last, I was able to contact the doctor easily. The doctor arrived at my home within 30 minutes to issue us the Certificate of the Cause of Death,” commented Alvin.

Alvin has taken the whole experience as a blessing rather than a burden because he was able to show his gratitude to his mother by taking care of her during her last days.

About SCS Hospice Care

Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) Hospice Care, the first hospice home care service in Singapore, was established in 1987. Since then, the team has provided home hospice care to support the needs of the Singapore community. SCS Hospice Care, as the team is now known, is one of the founding members of the Singapore Hospice Council. Since its formation, our hospice care services have been increasing in both capacity and capability to better cope with growing needs.

Learn more about SCS Hospice Care services here https://bit.ly/2m0eJ2u

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