Name: Tan Yit Toh
Occupation: Healthcare Attendant – Activity (HCA-A) at Methodist Welfare Services
Years of experience: 10 years
Education background: O Levels
Years with current company: 1 year 7 months
Top 3 skills: Cooking, meticulousness, alertness
Best lesson learned on the job: I learnt how to better communicate with colleagues of other nationalities and the elderly residents, especially those with dementia.
Why did you become an HCA-A?
When my father was admitted to the hospital, I noticed the critical role nurses played in caring for the patients. Witnessing their dedication up-close inspired me to make my contribution to society by becoming a healthcare attendant.
Is this your first job?
No, this is not my first job. My first Job was in Quality Assurance where I assisted in ensuring the accuracy of various products’ measurement.
Growing up, what did you want to be?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician when I was growing up. However, I stopped exploring further due to family commitments. Now, I am thankful to have found a job that aligns with my passion and values. I intend to work in this role till the day I retire!
What are some of the reactions you usually get when you tell people what you do?
Whenever I share with my friends about my job, most of them would be surprised and concerned as they know that the job can be rather demanding. However, they’ll encourage me to keep going as they recognise that it is a meaningful job.
How would you describe your job to someone who has never heard of it?
My job at the Nursing Home requires me to attend to the residents’ holistic needs. This includes ensuring their physical well-being such as assisting them in the toilet, engaging their cognitive abilities through exercise and games, or supporting their emotional needs by being a listening ear and more. I am like my clients’ family and trusted friend.
What are the expectations of being an HCA-A?
I think one is expected to be a good team player, helpful, and passionate about making a difference.
What is the best thing about being an HCA-A?
I learn a lot from the residents’ wealth of experiences and wisdom. They are often like a mirror for me and a reminder to live my life with intentionality. Should there come a day where I, too, need nursing care, I hope that I will have a companion and friend to care for me.
What was one thing about the job that surprised you after you joined?
While I knew of the challenges before joining as an HCA-A, to experience first-hand the averse and harsh responses from some of the residents with dementia initially shocked me. Although this remains a difficulty, I am thankful for a supportive team and the meaningfulness of my work, and that gets me through daily.
Describe what a day in your life is like.
7.50am – I walk to the bus stop to catch my bus, excited that it is a new day. It takes me just 15 minutes to reach the Nursing Home. As the bus is usually empty, I get to sit and enjoy a tranquil morning ride to work.
8.15am – I reach the Nursing Home and settle in swiftly. Greeting the residents cheerfully, I go through some morning exercises with them. The residents are in such a good mood! Seeing them participate in the exercises with smiles on their faces instantly brightens my day.
11am – After an active and fruitful morning, it is now time for lunch. I gently assist the excited residents out from their bed to the dayroom. They are eager to check the menu for the day and are grateful for the food they receive. As the residents finish up their meal, I begin to clear the dishes. I then send those who want a nap back to their beds. A few residents prefer to continue watching the television programme, so I leave them in the dayroom so they can enjoy the entertainment.
2.30pm – I conduct a monthly cooking session for the residents. This is a session that most of the residents look forward to with much anticipation. I always ensure that my menu is both interesting and accommodating to the residents’ strict diet. Today is no exception. Thrilled, a few residents assist me in preparing the ingredients.
4.00pm – The day passed in a flash and it is now dinner time for the residents. As they wait for their meals in the dayroom, a couple of residents watch television while others chat with one another and my colleagues.
5.30pm – I bid my colleagues goodbye and head home to make dinner for my family with the groceries I had purchased over the weekend. At 7pm, dinner is served! We all dig in and share about our day.
8pm – After dinner, I do some chores to keep my house tidy and clean. With the day’s work done, I relax by catching up on a few television programmes. It is important that I am well-rested myself so that I can keep giving my best at work and to my family. It might have been a long day, but as I wind down and reflect, I’m all charged up to serve the residents tomorrow.