*Jaga-Me is posting on behalf of a caregiver as she wants to remain anonymous.
This is my story on the morning my dad suffered a stroke and how home care saved our family.
It was a Sunday morning in August 2016, when my sister dashed into my room and jolted me awake. “Mei, come out now!” She exclaimed. Despite being in a half-awoken state, I noticed her trembling voice and watery eyes, and I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong.
I dashed out to the hall and saw my mother standing, and my father seated on the sofa. In my head, i was wondering, what’s wrong? No one fainted. This thought flashed through my mind in that split second as I rushed towards my parents and saw my father having an unusual look in his eyes, with his mouth crooked and half of his body shaking uncontrollably.
“He’s having a stroke! What do we do?” My mom and sister cried. I called the ambulance right away. As as we left the house with the medics, I knew at that point, that our lives is never going to be the same again. The darkest period in my entire twenty-one years of life would begin from this moment.
After consulting our doctor, we found out that my dad had unfortunately suffered from major Hemorrhagic Stroke which resulted in serious brain swelling. He had to undergo Craniotomy surgery (removal of bone flap to allow brain to swell outwards instead of compressing the other part of the brain). He remained in the Intensive Care Unit for a month before getting transferred to the general ward for the next three months.
Coping and Moving forward
As a full-time student at that time, I had to rush down to the hospital every single day after school to see my dad. I did my work in the ward and leeched onto free (but unstable) Wi-Fi as much as I could. My sister at times went by days without being able to visit my dad due to her long working hours. My mom, in her 50s, for four entire months, travelled to the hospital every single day without fail and stayed there from noon till night; even the hospital security guards chased her away. As much as the freedom to go anywhere we want were robbed from us, my dad meant too much to us to not be by his side when he needed us the most.
With his vital stats stabilising over the next 3 months, the hospital urged us to bring him home as he did not require any more medical care. Most family members would be delighted to hear this piece of news, but this statement from the hospital seemed more like a bomb that dropped on us. With my father’s physical and mental capacities taken away by the stroke, going home seemed impossible for us. How are we going to take care of him at home? Who is going to monitor him 24/7? Are we skilled enough to do so? What if something happens at home? All these questions flooded through our minds. We had no idea what home care was. We were resistant to this idea because we believed that the hospital was the only place that my dad could receive proper care at, that our minds could at least be at ease with the doctors and nurses around.
The decision to engage in home care services
After exhausting every alternative, we decided to hire a home caregiver and brought our dad home after 4 months of hospitalisation.
Today, after 6 months of home care for my dad, I say this is the best decision we could have made.
With medical supplies readily available in Singapore (we fortunately receive medical subsidies from the government and claims from insurance), my dad is now comfortably at home getting cared for by our caregiver. The care and attention given to him by our caregiver is undivided and my family can now carry on with our daily activities with an ease of mind. We do not have to worry when our home caregiver takes leave as we are thankful that respite care services are readily available for my family.
The thing about home care, is that we are able to get professional home care nurses to care for my dad in the comforts of our own homes. It is a tremendous relief to be able to get professionals to help us when we were clueless about being first time caregivers to stroke patients. Getting help also provided us the luxury of time and and ease of mind that our dad was properly taken care of by experienced caregivers.
Furthermore, being in a hospital makes him susceptible to bacteria and viruses especially when his immune system had weakened drastically due to his immobility, therefore we understood from many doctors that the community is the best place for my dad to receive his care in.
On top of that, I am thankful for nurses within the community whom we can reach out to for care advices and clinical procedures that my dad may require from time to time, which greatly save us the hassle of transporting my dad to the hospital solely for something which could be easily done within the comfort of our home.
Home is wherever the family is, and I can’t be thankful enough that with the advent of home care services, my dad is home with us without compromising on the care that he is receiving.
Lastly, before I end this post, I would like to mention that stroke can occur to anyone, regardless of age and gender. Stroke is also the top 10 principle cause of death in Singapore according to Ministry of Health. Hence, it is crucial to educate ourselves and recognise warning signs and symptoms so that we are able to seek treatment promptly and mitigate the after effects of stroke. Be alert, and save a life today.
Note: I chose to be anonymous in this story, but here’s hoping that my experiences would be able to to help you in your caregiving journey, and help you understand more about home care services.