Aims to raise public awareness and support palliative care patients and caregivers
St Luke’s Hospital (SLH) successfully held its annual fundraising event, Celebrating Silver: Circle of Life Charity Dinner, to raise public awareness and underscore the importance of holistic palliative care and support in maintaining the quality of life for patients at the end-of-life. The hospital also launched ‘Project Heartbeat’, a legacy project to support palliative care patients and their caregivers. Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Trade and Industry, graced the event as its Guest of Honour this year.
The number of people in Singapore receiving community palliative care, also referred to as hospice care, has increased by 30 per cent over the past five years, with about 8,800 terminally ill people receiving such care in 2022. With a rapidly ageing population, the demand for palliative care is expected to surge in the years to come.
Themed ‘Celebrating Silver: Circle of Life,’ the charity dinner aims to spotlight a compassionate and holistic approach to individuals facing life-limiting conditions. The circle of life is a beautiful cycle that culminates in a natural passing for all, and there is still much to cherish, honour and celebrate even at the end-of-life. For palliative patients, reflecting on their life’s legacy and honouring their last wishes can help them find peace and closure, as well as comfort and purpose during their final days.
The event featured a two-part performance, immersing the audience on a journey of inspiration, growth, and transformation through the lens of an estranged family’s life, inspired by a true story of a SLH patient. A silent auction also showcased six artworks contributed by SLH former patients and artists Mr Low Lee Teck and Mr Law Hung Meng.
The evening’s highlight was the launch of ‘Project Heartbeat’, an innovative music therapy legacy project for palliative care patients, posthumously dedicated to SLH’s patient turned volunteer and staff, Mr Tan Ann Seng. This initiative is part of the hospital’s commitment to champion compassionate care, which highlights the importance of caring for the ‘whole person’, including their clinical, social and emotional needs.
Drawing upon Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), pairing with the music therapy model for palliative care as a framework, music therapists first conduct an assessment to determine patients’ suitability for the project. Patients at the acceptance stage of grief will be offered the opportunity to have their heartbeats recorded and integrated into a song of their choice.
The resulting piece beautifully encapsulates the essence of each patient through their heartbeat – a heartfelt composition that will forever serve as a tribute to their being. The patient’s family is left with a precious and tangible memory to hold on to, fostering a sense of closure after the passing of their loved one.
“Palliative care goes beyond providing medical support; it is also about recognising the inherent value of each patient and their life story. It’s about celebrating the moments that have defined them, their triumphs, challenges and contributions they have made to their families, friends and communities. Through our efforts, we hope to shift the focus of Palliative care from loss and sadness to honouring and cherishing the moments that make life meaningful,” said A/Prof Tan Boon Yeow, Chief Executive Officer, St Luke’s Hospital.
Over the years, SLH has been dedicated to enriching lives in the communities, expanding its core services to include inpatient, outpatient, home care and community care programmes. Funds raised from the charity dinner will go towards supporting the beneficiaries of SLH’s services, many of whom come from low-income families.