St Luke’s Hospital Launches Inaugural Symposium to Reinspire Compassionate Care in Healthcare Sector

With an aim to improve quality of care and well-being of healthcare professionals, St Luke’s Hospital launched its inaugural Palliative Care Symposium themed “From Wellness to Wholeness” on 22 November 2022, where more than 150 healthcare professionals gathered to learn about the importance and practice of compassionate care from an international panel of experts.

With a rapidly ageing population in Singapore, care needs will continue to grow in the community. To meet their healthcare needs, we need to have a sustained healthcare team. However, according to the Ministry of Health, about 1,500 healthcare workers resigned in the first half of 2021, compared to about 2,000 annually pre-pandemic.

As the sector faces a manpower crunch and rising work load amidst a highly pressurised environment, burn-out and “compassion fatigue” may lead healthcare professionals to focus more on treating the disease than the whole person.

The concept of compassionate care highlights the importance of caring for the “whole person”, including their clinical, social and emotional needs. While clinical care restores a patient’s health, whole-person compassionate care can go a longer way in improving overall well-being and health outcomes, restoring them “from wellness to wholeness”.

The same care needs to be extended to healthcare staff, in order to empower them to care for their patients.

Studies have demonstrated, patients and caregivers who had reported good relations and trust with clinical teams, were more likely to cope better emotionally and experience an improved quality of life.

Among healthcare professionals, high level of intentional compassionate practice amongst colleagues lead to teams being fulfilled and satisfied in their work, with an increased motivation to develop their skills and expertise. And this results in personnel with higher capabilities.

Grief therapist Liese Groot-Alberts highlights in her keynote presentation that healthcare workers can start practising compassion by establishing authentic relationships, practising unconditional acceptance and listening to understand, rather than reply. With an increased understanding to involve patients and their families in care, healthcare professionals can better identify care needs and usage of appropriate approaches, leading to better patient outcomes.

A/Prof Tan Boon Yeow, Chief Executive Officer, St Luke’s Hospital said, “Wholeness is a complex issue because it involves all of what makes us human – mind, body, soul, emotions and relationships. It is the ability to be in the midst of challenges and still know you are whole. It is not spotless, without trouble or pain. Through sharing of experiences and best practices in this symposium, we hope to reinspire and reinforce the concept of compassionate care as the bedrock and foundation of our capacity to serve.”

In 2017, St Luke’s Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the west to provide inpatient palliative care. Since then, its palliative ward has served more than 500 patients, regardless of race, language or religion.

To find out more about the speakers and programme details, please visit https://www.slh.org.sg/palliative-care-symposium2022/