If Cheryl Kek, 47, could have her way, she would like all her patients to be able to hear and understand the nurses and pharmacists well so that pre-operative and post-operative care for their eye surgery would go smoothly.
Patients who are hard of hearing sometimes do not bring their hearing aids when they come for surgery. As a result, conversations between staff and thesepatients tend to get loud in the common areas, thus affecting other patients. Cheryl's search for a solution led her to work with then Assistant Director of Nursing, Ms Foo Lee Lian, whose mother had great success with a portable hearing amplifier.
Cheryl's team started a three-month trial that began in January 2021. The amplifier is worn like a headset, with a volume control that can be adjusted until the patient can hear the nurses. It is especially useful during the pre-operative stage, as nurses can better conduct their assessment and offer reassurance to patients. If required, patients can also bring it to the operating theatre to facilitate communication.
The initiative was well received among the eight patients who participated in the trial. They were happy to be able to hear the nurses, with some even claiming that the amplifier worked better than their own hearing aid. Encouraged by the feedback, Cheryl gathered a few team members to set up the 'Eye (I)Hear You' project. They extended the trial by a year and recruited 22 more patients. Upon successfully completing the trial, Cheryl hopes the hearing amplifier can be a standard offering at Singapore National Eye Centre's (SNEC) day ward to better support patients with hearing difficulties.
"This all started because we wanted to enhance the patient experience and improve our communication with them so that patients can also take greater ownership of their care after surgery," Cheryl said.
It was a mission trip to Chiang Rai, Thailand, in her 20s, that sparked Cheryl's esire to join nursing. Seeing how the local children were lacking access to medical services made her determined to make a difference as a nurse. After graduating with a degree in nursing in 1996, she spent eight years in a public acute hospital before joining SNEC in 2004. While most of her attention is focused on work and her twin daughters for now, Cheryl looks forward to travelling for leisure and missionary work again one day.
To read about more nurses like Cheryl, who have made a positie impact in various areas of healthcare, download the latest issue of the Singapore Health Special Nursing Supplement 2022.