Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ask A Professional: 5 Questions for Jenny Bong, Methodist Welfare Services

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In June, we ran a contest inviting fans on Facebook and Instagram to send questions to Jenny. Here are Jenny’s replies to five selected questions!

About Jenny Bong
With her advocacy for a more holistic view towards elderly persons’ physical, social and psychological needs, Jenny leads the charge for MWS’ continuous evolution in residential care, as the Cluster Director of Residential Services. This includes empowering seniors to better manage their long-term care needs and be seen as contributing persons in society rather than persons requiring care. With Jenny’s guidance, MWS seeks to better address the increasingly complex needs of persons in intermediate and long-term care.

1. Jenny, after working so many years in the Community Care sector, you are still so passionate about your job. How do you sustain your passion?

I am fortunate to be in a job that I enjoy and it gives me a sense of purpose in life. To sustain my passion, I stay curious about what is new in our sector, learn from others, and ‘challenge’ our usual mode of thinking and working. The ability to bring about change and the opportunity to care for others, particularly seniors, makes me happy at work. I am in a job that engages my head and heart, a powerful motivator that keeps my passion alive. If I wake up one morning and dread heading in to work, then it will be time for me to call it quits.

2. With COVID-19, what do you think will be a major shift in the healthcare industry? What new skillsets does one need to acquire?

We are facing a new reality and there will be major shifts in the way we deliver care. In a matter of months, we have seen a push to accelerate the use of technology to ensure safe distancing and to reduce physical contact and interactions. Telecommuting and remote working has and will continue to affect how we work and deliver care to our patients/residents. The need to reskill and upskill in digital knowledge and tools will be important.

In addition to the heightened awareness and management of infection control, I believe healthcare workers will need to be more proficient in managing the psycho-social needs of patients/residents. Skills in identifying mental health needs such as anxiety, sense of isolation, and worry will be needed as we continue to operate in a volatile and uncertain environment. I anticipate a reduction in actual face-to-face communication, so skills in using technology to facilitate better communication with colleagues, patients and next-of-kin will be critical. Supervisors need to learn how to lead virtual teams and maintain team culture when there is reduced physical contact time and greater physical distance from colleagues.

In some healthcare settings, virtual care models will have to be offered and new skills needed to care for patients whom we have to engage and treat virtually.

3. What is a common misconception that people have about your vocation?

People often think that social workers in the Community Care sector, particularly those who serve in nursing homes, only process financial assistance for patients. That’s untrue. Social workers in Community Care are key drivers in achieving a more person-centred care as part of our service.

4. What are the ways that your team has come up with to empower seniors to better manage themselves?

Person-centred care is a philosophy of respecting each person as an individual who has his/her unique life experiences, values, beliefs, wishes, and preferences.

There is a tendency that care is provided and ‘done to’ instead of ‘done with’ our residents. Solutions are devised by our professional experts. We are trying to deconstruct our ‘usual’ way of doing things and to adopt new approaches.

One example is the way we introduce and encourage arts engagement amongst our residents. We have managed to do this by offering a variety of activities and programmes that allow for our patients’ personal expression. This includes art forms such as singing, music, dance, crafts, and painting which are made available to all residents regardless of their functional capacities. When people think of nursing homes, they often fall back on the stereotypical image of frail, debilitated older adults and forget the individual’s autonomy and sense of self-worth. Residents can now choose and manage what activities they enjoy and carry on such activities at their own time.

5. What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

The opportunity to drive change and bring about positive impact for our seniors and staff.



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