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Ms. Adelene Teck: An Occupational Therapist's Insights About 2003's SARS Outbreak


Last week, we caught up with one of our locum Occupational Therapists, Adelene. Adelene was a former Homecare Manager and has over 20 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist. She is currently a locum Occupational Therapist in the Senior Care Centre.


Having gone through 2003's SARS period, she shared with us about how therapists can better navigate in the current COVID-19 situation. In this article, we would like to introduce Adelene and share some tips on how therapists can still play their part during the COVID-19 season.


1. After years of working in a non-profit community-based organisation, why did you make the switch to become a locum therapist?

I wanted to experience working within other sub-sectors of the eldercare sector, including senior care centres and nursing homes. I had also thought about switching to working part-time to spend more time with my daughter to create more memories with her as she grows up. Furthermore, I wanted extra time to pursue other interests such as volunteering and taking up music lessons.


2. How has your experience of working with Pacific Rehab been thus far?

It has been very pleasant! Here are some ways I have been supported by Pacific Rehab:

  • Matched with assignments according to my preferences (like working hours and setting)

  • Less coordination and paperwork for me to do as Pacific Rehab covers everything from sourcing for assignments to signing the contract

  • Paid directly and timely every month

  • Covered by professional indemnity insurance

  • Given support as I thread into new sub-sectors

  • Receive regular updates via journal articles and training opportunities

  • Given platforms to meet with staff and other locum therapists under Pacific Rehab


3. What motivates you every day? I look forward to making a difference in the lives of the elderly and caregivers each day. Working alongside like-minded colleagues and challenging each other to do more good and do good better motivates me too.


4. What is the greatest fulfilment of working in the Senior Care Centre?

The SCCs provides a continuum of care with its spectrum of services to better meet the multifaceted needs of an elderly. I get to meet and partner with elderly with different needs and strengths, disabilities and capabilities, to lead more independent and fuller lives. Bringing life and energy to a centre to motivate the elderly with my colleagues makes it even more fulfilling!


5. We understand that you were an Occupational Therapist in 2003 when SARS happened. What was something that you learnt during that trying period?

Back in 2003, the organisation that I worked in provided home care services and was a small outfit compared to a hospital. Moreover, Singapore had a lower level of preparedness in handling a sudden and new infectious outbreak. Here were some things I did:

  • Kept abreast of latest development and knowledge of the virus via news and directives from Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation

  • Translated latest development and knowledge into practical daily SOP and advisory to clients (like ceasing/reducing home visits for non-critical services)

  • Donned Personal Protective Equipment to make essential home visits

  • Called clients to check on their well-being

  • Did active contact-tracing

  • Ensured compliance of care staff and clients (like travel declaration, temperature taking)


6. Do you have any advice for therapists during this season of COVID-19?

  • Stay abreast of latest development knowledge of COVID-19

  • Where possible, continue to make a difference to our clients and their caregivers despite additional inconveniences (like phone or video calling to ensure their well-being)

  • Where possible, take initiative or offer to help various efforts in the community

  • In compliance with health advisories and government directives, continue activities that would help us retain some normalcy, while maintaining social distancing, and engage in activities that help us relax or lift up our spirits as we stay home more frequently

  • Lastly, know that this tough time will pass!


Adelene's insights as an Occupational Therapist back in 2003's SARS is certainly helpful as we navigate through COVID-19. In this season, let's stay safe, be physically and mentally healthy, and still do whatever we can (while complying with health advisories) to look out for our clients and their caregivers. Stay tuned for our upcoming post on our social media channels about tips on self care during isolation!


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