While not on the frontline of providing palliative care, Wong Yin Yee finds that improving quality in clinical care makes a difference.
There were patients and caregivers who asked her, “What is the use of letting you know our needs? You can’t do it. We have to wait for a long time for changes.” Clinical Quality Assistant Manager Wong Yin Yee has been with Assisi Hospice for five years and has been in the palliative care sector for 14 years. She shared her experience of making an impact in palliative care through improving clinical quality.
Why did you join the palliative care sector? How is working in this sector different?
I was trained in biological science and started out doing sales in the pharmaceutical line. In 2007, I joined the National Cancer Centre as a research coordinator which started my career in the palliative care sector. At Assisi Hospice, I am in the Clinical Quality department, and I work on research to understand the needs of patients and caregivers, for example with the caregiver survey, and quality assurance, reporting and management.
I’m 40 this year. When I first joined the sector, I was in my 20s and death seems far away. Working in the palliative care sector allows me to see another side of life — patients facing sickness and death, and family members under caregiving stress.
How does what you do contribute to providing better quality palliative care for patients and their loved ones?
My work involves speaking to patients and caregivers during the surveys, asking for their feedback. One example would be the caregivers survey, where we sought to understand caregivers’ needs and how to better meet them. In the course of my work, I have seen improvements and direct changes as a result of quality improvement projects. One example is a recent quality improvement project on the expected waiting time for transfer from hospital to Assisi Hospice. After the survey and some investigation, we managed to streamline the process and shorten the time taken for transfer. This is an area of direct change that improves the experience of patients and their caregivers.
I also get a great sense of satisfaction when I hear positive feedback from grateful patients and caregivers when I am doing the surveys.
What are some memorable incidents in your interaction with patients and their families?
Though my intention is usually to get the patients or caregivers to answer survey questions, there will be some who need a listening ear and will tell me their life story. A survey usually takes 15 to 20 mins, but I have occasionally spent 40 to 45 mins with one patient or caregiver. It is important to give the person 100% attention.
In Assisi Hospice, we often organise events for patients. I volunteer to help the wheelchair-bound patients and accompany them during some events. One example is the Chinese New Year celebration this year. I feel happy to see the smiles on the patients and caregivers’ faces as they engage in the activities.