1 Apr 2020 Students Seize Golden Opportunity to Make Significant Impact on Local Community

IMU CARESIn collaboration with IMU Community Engagement, a group of Semester 4 students from the IMU Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry programmes conducted two community service visits to Rumah Charis – Home for the Aged as part of our MPU (U4) project. The main aim of the visits was to provide healthcare service to the elderly residents and their caregivers in the home. The activities conducted during the visits included performing healthcare screenings and giving talks on tuberculosis and proper posture.

For these talks, we are grateful to Dr Liew Yun Khoon, our project advisor for guiding us in planning the activities and checking the content of our talks. We would also like to thank Mr Muhamad Faizzuddin Bin Mohd Razali, who checked the content of the talk relating to good posture.

Prior to the visits by our group, the BP117 Semester 6 Pharmacy students had conducted some activities to educate the home residents and caregiver about the importance of not sharing their medication with others, compliance to medication, good personal hygiene, where to read expiry dates of medicine and the proper ways for medicine disposal. At least 80% of the elderly who participated these activities showed improved knowledge in good medicine practice after the visit by BP117 Pharmacy students.

First Visit 7 March 2020)
We then conducted our first visit on 7 March 2020 in the same week as the BP117 students visit. The first activity for our first visit included health screening which involved measuring the blood pressure, blood glucose level and blood cholesterol level of the elderly as well as their caregivers. During the health screening, Dr Khin Saw Yu, an IMU medical doctor counselled the elderly on practicing a healthy lifestyle. Following the health screening, two of our students delivered a talk on tuberculosis regarding its definition, causative agent, symptoms, medication and prevention as well as its myths and facts. Through the efforts of our colleagues and IMU faculty, the talk was a success as it was both informative and interactive. The elders appreciated that we educated them on the proper ways to prevent the spread of tuberculosis as well as taking care of those who are infected.

Our project leader, Hong May, who delivered the talk on tuberculosis shared, “The most important thing is to think from the point of view of the old folks so that we know how to deliver the message to them”.

Second Visit (14 March 2020)
A week later, our second visit took place. This visit saw us involved in morning exercise, cleaning, giving talk on proper posture, and sachet making session. We also provided fruits for the elderly that we bought to promote a healthier lifestyle. During the second visit, we divided ourselves into two groups whereby half of us would conduct the activities while the rest would start cleaning. While making the sachet, some of the elderly and our group mates had a mini karaoke session which the elderly enjoyed.

Throughout the activities, we have acquired new skills and experiences which enhanced our development as healthcare professionals. For example, together with my groupmate who is also a Pharmaceutical Chemistry student, we learned how to use health screening instruments such as the cholesterol monitoring kit, the glucometer as well as the correct way of using the blood pressure monitor. Additionally, we learnt how to improve our communication skills by interacting with the elderly. The activities on both the visits provided the opportunity for us to bond with the home residents and to get to know them and their needs better.

One of our groupmates, Ryan, who presented the posture talk, said, “I felt pressured before and during the talk because the elderly tend to be unwilling to learn new things; especially from someone younger than them. Honestly, I was surprised by their reactions as they were quite open-minded”.

Through the visits, we hope to make a positive impact to the community, no matter how big or small. For example, on the first visit, we noticed that some of the elderly with tuberculosis did not put on their face mask properly to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Two of the notable improper mask utilisations was not covering their nose and wearing the part without the metal strip on the nose. However, after creating awareness and counselling them in the first visit, we noticed on the second visit that the affected elderly was wearing their face masks correctly. Additionally, both the caregivers and the elders did their part to maintain the cleanliness of their area and to take better care on their health based on the health screenings results.

Overall, the impact of the activity we planned for the elderly also lead to the community around them to be more responsible not only with their health but also with the health of the surrounding neighbourhood. As students, we have gained invaluable experience and knowledge during the visits, and appreciate the time spent with the home residents. We would like to thank the management of Rumah Charis for allowing us to conduct the visits.

Written by: Doughlas Harold
Edited by: Dr Wong Lai Chun

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