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Inspired by patients and caregivers

​Sometimes it is the patients’ tenacity and caregivers’ selflessness that motivate and boost the morale of healthcare professionals.

In the face of health challenges, some patients have shown incredible strength and resilience, while caregivers embody altruism with their unconditional support and generous deeds. These qualities have, in turn, become a source of inspiration for healthcare workers, motivating them to deliver better care and lead meaningful lives.

The Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards (IPCA) is organised annually to honour these outstanding individuals. This year, the IPCA were presented to 27 individuals, two of whom are featured in this article. Read on for their uplifting stories.

Edwin Tan first learned of his eye disorder when he was in primary school. He was diagnosed with a rare hereditary condition called retinitis pigmentosa (bilateral rod cone dystrophy), which causes the light-sensing cells at the back of the eye to gradually break down and result in visual impairment. His sight was further limited by bilateral cataracts, rendering him legally blind.

Growing up with visual impairment was challenging, but Edwin learned to live independently with the help of various tools. For instance, he uses voiceover and
text-to-speech software to ‘read’ on digital devices, and magnifiers to enlarge text in print media. He also gets around on his own with a white cane.

After graduating from Temasek Polytechnic, Edwin joined local social enterprise Fairmarch, an online marketplace that offers a sustainable source of income for people with disabilities. In his free time, the 27-year-old enjoys playing chess and has represented Singapore at international chess tournaments, including the 8th ASEAN Para Games in 2015.

Edwin is also a member of Runninghour, a sports club that promotes integration of people with special needs through running or walking. In 2018, Edwin joined the Youth Development Programme organised by SPD. Through this initiative, Edwin and his team conducted workshops for students with autism at Singapore Polytechnic to help them better manage interpersonal conflicts and their moods.

Edwin does not wallow in self-pity. Instead, he chooses to give back to society and help others who are less fortunate,” said Dr Chan Choi Mun, Senior Consultant at SNEC’s Medical Retina Department, who nominated Edwin for the IPCA.

Notably, Edwin was invited to deliver a speech at the Global Compact Network Singapore Youth Forum in 2019, where President Halimah Yacob was the guest
of honour. Edwin spoke about empowering people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment at the event.

“Although I am visually impaired, I am still able-bodied and can accomplish many things. People with disabilities are not limited — I believe that we can and should take the initiative to better the lives of people in our community,” he said.

Tan Lai Hock, 52, has been a taxi driver for five years. He met his regular passenger, 85-year-old Lim Chong Khim, three years ago via a taxi booking.

After reaching his destination, Lim asked if Tan could wait for him to finish his errand and send him home. “I agreed because I was not in a hurry and I empathised with him as he had difficulty in walking,” Tan said.

By the end of the return journey, Tan agreed to assist Lim, who lives alone in a rental flat, on his monthly errands, such as visits to the bank, barber and market. Each trip can be as long as four hours due to Lim’s osteoarthritis, which slows his movements. Tan also helps fulfil Lim’s food cravings and special requests during the festive seasons.

Whenever Lim has a medical appointment, Tan would drive him there and wait with him in the clinic till they have collected his medications. This could take up to five hours each time. As Lim speaks only Mandarin and Hokkien, Tan also facilitates communication between Lim and the medical team.

“I often see patients coming alone for their appointments because their caregivers are too busy to accompany them. It is selfless of Mr Tan to sacrifice his time and income to help Mr Lim. I was overwhelmed by his kindness towards a fellow human being,” said Mr Lakshmanasamudram S Mohanram, Ophthalmic Investigation Specialist at
SNEC, who nominated Tan for the IPCA.

With Lim finally accepting Tan’s suggestion to get a wheelchair, it has become much easier for Tan to bring Lim around.

“My philosophy in life is very simple: I believe that kindness begets kindness, so we should try to do good while we can. I do not think that what I do for Mr Lim is extraordinary. However, Mr Lim once said to me that ‘I am very lucky to have met you’,” Tan shared.


Click here to check out other articles in SINGVISION Issue 1/2021.