What seemed like any other afternoon at work turned out to be quite eventful for SGH radiographer Adeline Lau.
“I was doing a chest X-ray for an elderly patient who was wheelchair-bound. She was also hard of hearing and was not responding to my instructions. I asked her son to come into the room to assist but he did not want to. He told me that his mother could not hear very well so I must talk very loudly to her. I had to raise my voice so that she could hear me. After finishing the X-ray, I wheeled the patient out to the waiting area where her son was. Unexpectedly, he came at me and shouted, ‘WHY DID YOU SHOUT AT MY MOTHER?!!!’ ”
“He refused to listen to my explanation and continued shouting at me very loudly. Having that angry, big man towering over me, it seemed that at any moment he could lose control and hit me. I was really afraid. All I could hear was a buzzing from all that shouting and ‘danger, danger’ flashing in my mind,” shares Adeline who works at SGH Diagnostic Radiology at Block 2, Level 1.
The son then demanded to speak to her supervisor. Adeline quickly looked for her team lead, Senior Radiographer Adam Kee.
Recalls Adam, “Adeline looked stressed and sounded exasperated, unlike her usual smiley and chatty self. She said that a patient’s Next-of-Kin was abusive and had scolded her. At once, I stepped in to de-escalate the situation quickly. The son would just become angrier if I had let Adeline continue to speak to him. Neither was Adeline in the right state of mind to carry on with him.”
“I approached the patient’s son and listened to him. I did not tell him whether he was right or wrong but just said, ‘I apologize for how you feel. I have heard your feedback. Thank you. We will definitely look into it.’ ” says Adam, who has been a radiographer at SGH for about eight years.
After the patient and her son left, Adam immediately sought out Adeline, who was already attending to other patients. “I could see how she must have felt threatened or upset. After such an encounter, clinical services should not be her priority. She needed to recover. I told Adeline, ‘Right now, I feel you must rest. It’s good for you to put your mind off work first.’ ” says Adam.
His concern for her took Adeline by surprise. “I broke down because I was very touched that he took the time to care for me and put me before the work. Usually, for efficiency sake, I take abuses from patients as part and parcel of work and just carry on,” shares Adeline, who nominated Adam for the Genuine Care Award.
Explains Adam, “If this had happened to me, I would want time to cool off. I would not be in the right frame of mind to tend to patients. Also, it is important that Adeline knows that I care; that I have her back. If she thinks that there is no one to protect her, she would not feel that this is a safe place to work.”
Says Adeline who has worked with Adam for four years, “I also appreciate that whenever I have something to discuss, whether it is about patients or other matters such as annual leave, Adam would not talk in the corridor where there are 10, 15 people walking around. He would discuss such matters with staff in a room.”
“And he always asks first, ‘Got to time to talk?’ He does not come with the mentality, ‘I’m the leader so you have to drop what you are doing and talk to me.’ His acts of thoughtfulness make me feel that he really cares about us. It also makes me feel safe at work,” says Adeline who has been a part-time radiographer at SGH for 13 years.
What motivates Adam to behave this way? “I believe in empathising with our staff. How? By putting ourselves in their shoes and seeing things from their point-of-view. This helps us create a culture of understanding and care at work.”
Do you have a colleague who genuinely cares for others all the time? Look out for our next Genuine Care Award Nominations in the second half of 2023! We love mail! Drop us a note at email@example.com to tell us what you like or didn’t like about this story, and what you would like to see more of in LighterNotes.