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Celebrating mothers (and daughters) in healthcare

Many Changi General Hospital (CGH) staff juggle the roles of being a parent AND a healthcare worker — not an easy task, considering their multiple responsibilities! This Mother’s Day, we salute the mothers among us, and dive into the journeys of three pairs of mothers-and-daughters at the Caring General Hospital as they inspire and learn from each other, and go the extra mile for patients.

How did you inspire your child to join healthcare?

Norhayati: I guess I unknowingly inspired my daughter to take up nursing as her career. When she was younger, I’d bring her to my clinic and hospital workplaces.

Syazwani: I chose Nursing because my mum is my biggest hero. It’s always so fascinating to watch the way she helps people through her caring touch and gentle words. Being exposed to this, especially at a young age, made me want to make a difference in others’ lives and heal people like she does.

How was it like balancing parenting and your work?

N: I would usually study and complete my school assignments only after my children slept. I had to balance my work, study and family at the same time. I am blessed with a very loving, understanding and supportive husband, who is very proud of us as he thinks that nursing is a very noble job.

S: I remember my mum changing her work timings for a few years just to spend time with me and my siblings. Looking back, I cannot imagine how she juggled raising us while studying for her diploma, advanced diploma and degree! She definitely inspires me.

What are the benefits of both of you working in the healthcare sector?

N: We are able to share our life experiences and lessons, and give advice on how to manage situations when our family members fall ill.

S: The perk is that we get to commute to and from work together when we’re on the same shift! Journeys back home together are precious to me.

The best gifts of all: Norhayati with her daughter Syazwani and her grandchildren.

How do you show care for your patients and exhibit passion in your work?

N: When Syazwani’s ward was converted to a COVID-19 Ward, she shared with me her desire to help her patients who were migrant workers. We worked with the ward staff to raise funds and buy essentials for the migrant workers. The workers were very grateful for the dedication and kindness shown.

S: There was once during Hari Raya when my mum went all out to get a long-staying patient with no next-of-kin a set of festive clothing and cooked some delicacies for him. My whole family visited him in the ward that morning and he shed happy tears while eating my mum’s dishes and complimenting her cooking. She’s the best cook! And for her to be in nursing for more than 30 years — if that’s not passion, I don’t know what it is!

How did you inspire your child to join healthcare?

Cherry: I’d like to think that the joy I get from the meaningful work that I do affirmed Noelle’s choice to join healthcare. Being present; to be our patients’ listening ear; and to empathise, comfort and encourage helps them tremendously on their road to recovery.

Noelle: I learnt more about allied health through my mum, which eventually led me to decide to become an occupational therapist. She has always taught me to value and help others, so healthcare seemed like a good fit.

How did you both end up working in CGH?

C: I shared with her my enjoyment at work and the multi-disciplinary care and working culture here at the Caring General Hospital — where we work closely with our colleagues from the other care teams to provide the best care to our patients, and encouraged her to work here.

N: Seeing my mum blossom at her workplace and interacting well with her colleagues further affirmed my choice. It’s quite fun to share the same workplace with my mum. She sometimes leaves ‘goodies’ on my desk — like a chicken pie or a note which really encourages me in rough times. There was once when she even roped in my colleagues for a birthday surprise!

How was it like balancing parenting and your work in healthcare?

C: I had to cope with changes and challenges, especially learning IT skills. At one point, I had to go part-time due to my youngest daughter’s PSLE preparation. I was very appreciative of the support from my bosses at that time.

N: When my mum re-entered the workforce, I was just starting my degree in occupational therapy. I remember being worried for her when her working hours stretched till late but was also amazed at her energy to still manage the household and family. A ‘superwoman’ indeed!

What are the benefits of both of you working in the healthcare sector?

C: I work closely with speech therapists, and my daughter rehabilitates patients affected by physical, cognitive or mental health conditions to become as independent as possible, so occasionally we may see the same patient. Being able to participate in the patients’ care and watch their progress together is rewarding. Noelle can also relate quite easily to my experiences as a healthcare worker.

N: I learn a lot from my mum. It actually helps that we work in different roles as I can consult her on things that are under her expertise. As a fellow allied health professional with more experience, she is also able to understand the challenges and joys we face.

How do you show care for your patients and exhibit passion in your work?

C: Noelle demonstrates her responsibility towards patients and her team through her actions. I see that she strives to do her best for all her patients.

N: My mum goes the extra mile for patients. She embodies the value of compassion when it comes to patient care. One of the many examples that come to mind is when she would spend extra time to cheer up a patient by playing them Hokkien songs. She even had me teach her how to make playlists on YouTube and Spotify for this. If you ever get the chance to talk to her, you cannot fail to notice her happiness when talking about the progress her patient had made, no matter how small.

How did you inspire your child to join healthcare?

Gloria: When Althea was in high school, she told her friends that she wanted to be a nurse. I encouraged her to study Nursing, highlighting how it is a fulfilling career, nurturing and caring for patients. I also shared other professions with her so she would understand the differences.

Althea: My mum inspired me to join healthcare. When I was little, my dad used to send my mum to work, and would bring me along with them. My mum has been an Accident & Emergency (A&E) nurse since then, so I became used to the hospital environment, and met many nurses who handled their work with poise.

How was it like balancing parenting and your work in healthcare?

G: It was challenging but also very rewarding as I had to juggle my time being a full-time mum and staying active at work. This was especially so when I went for trainings. At the end of the day, nothing compares to the feeling of going home to my kids.

A: It’s normal that we might not see each other for three days even though we stay under one roof! However, we sometimes leave gifts with a note for each other, as we are on shift work.

What are the benefits of both of you working in the healthcare sector?

G: We can easily relate and understand each other better. We are also able to share experiences and be more supportive as a family.

A: We have common friends from work. We also share new things that we learn from the hospital.

How do you show care for your patients and exhibit passion in your work?

G: Althea often expresses her hopes for her patients to get well regardless of their health status. She is very detailed in caring for her patients and constantly thinks of ideas to improve their care.

A: My mum’s passion and endurance is what makes me admire her the most. To be in the nursing profession for more than 40 years says it all.

Celebrating mothers (and daughters) in healthcare