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Welcome to the second issue of our Kasih Hospice Foundation email newsletter. 

This email newsletter comes out of our desire to keep you, our kind supporters, informed on our daily going ons, and as response to the 'new normal' that the recent Covid-19 pandemic has created. But we don't just want to give you a report. We want to tell you our stories. 

We hope you will enjoy upcoming news of our planned activities, and getting to know Kasih and her staff and volunteers 'behind the scenes'.  

With compassion we serve,

Kasih Hospice Foundation
 

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Braving the shave for Palliative Care
The culmination of Kasih Hospice’s successful Shave for Palliative Care Campaign lead to a collection of RM980,000 for the continuation of their hospice services.

Kasih Hospice offers free end-of-life medical care and psychosocial support to patients facing life-limiting diseases such as forth-stage cancer and renal and organ failure. Hospices focus on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt progression of a disease or provide a cure. The goal is to prevent and relieve suffering and to improve quality of life, and to see to the total overall wellbeing of a patient, rather than just from a medical and illness trajectory. In addition to this the Hospice loans out equipment and medical furnishings such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other important equipment for free.  

Along with its core offering Kasih hospice also manages more than 60 active volunteers in 6 teams who go into palliative care and oncology wards in private hospitals to provide psychosocial support and a listening ear to patients and their families, and manages the weekly Day Care programme at Hospital Selayang’s Palliative Care ward. Volunteers are trained in active listening and best practices for volunteering in such environs, in addition to some volunteers who go in to help with self care activities for patients who might benefit, such a nail clipping and hair-wash. The hospice also carries out training in caregiving, volunteer training and recruitment, community building activities, public talks, and interfaith dialogues that benefits the public.
Datuk Dr Goh Pik Pin, President of Kasih Hospice shares on the NGO’s experience in carrying out its first largely digital campaign: “We used the Shave for Palliative Care campaign as an opportunity to convey to public the collateral damage that affected Kasih Hospice during covid-19’ pamdemic. Despite our unfamiliarity with communicating on the digital platform, we were touched and heartened by the outpouring  of support that came in from all over the country.  I see kindness and love from every corner.  This charity event has shown us how brightly the light of hope can shine in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic that has so badly affected us.”

This year Kasih Hospice was hit badly by collateral damage during the Covid-19 Pandemic, when almost overnight donations dried up at the commencement of the MCO, and the hospice realised all their fund-raising events would have to be cancelled. General Manager of Kasih Hospice, Ms Catherine Ooi said: “I was quite devastated by the thought of our funding running out. We serve close to a thousand patients a year and maintain a full time medical team of eight, comprising of two doctors and six nurses who go out every day to dispense specialised care and symptom management to their patients through rain, shine, haze, flooded roads, and multiple staircases. Much of society has not heard of community Hospice yet, much less cultivated an appreciation of the huge financial undertaking it is to maintain our services, and the love, strength and dedication it takes to maintain a practice in this sector.”

Ms Ooi thought of creating a group of ‘Palliative Care Ambassadors’ who would offer to shave their heads to raise both donations and educational awareness amongst the public, thus hitting her two biggest objectives with one stone. “Shaving campaigns are not new to cancer, but they are new to Palliative Care in Malaysia, and last year 78% of our new patient load came from 4th stage cancer referrals. I felt that we could make good use of such a campaign platform, which translates well as a digital campaign. I’m deeply thankful at the support of my directors who agreed to lead by example and go bald and beautiful for Palliative Care.”

 

The hospice needs to raise at least 1.3 million a year to survive.
The fundraising and awareness campaign ran from 1 May till 18 July 2020, where total of 20 Ambassadors turned up at Kasih Hospice premises in SS3 Petaling Jaya on Saturday 18th, at the culmination the campaign to shave their heads. The hospice had to limit their official participants to only 20 Ambassadors due a desire to minimise the number of people present in a room at the same time. A strict protocol of social distancing and risk assessment, as well as having separate sessions for shaving was adhered to.  
The hospice is very grateful to various media for highlighting their campaign as it helped the hospice to expand its reach beyond its current swath of volunteers. All in all, the hospice collected RM980,000 in donations from the Shave for Palliative Care campaign. Donating groups included individuals, donor friends and families, social media groups, social collectives, corporations, and religious associations. Some groups and associations even chose to shave their heads in solidarity with Kasih Hospice.

Shaving ambassadors consist of the executive and management team of Kasih Hospice as well  volunteers and members of the public from diverse backgrounds and professions. Some of the Ambassadors were family members who had directly benefited from hospice support and wished to publicly support hospice fundraising and awareness. The shave also attracted an Ambassador from the UK, and one from US. The oldest official Ambassador who shaved, Mr Ooi Chooi Seng is 75 years old, whilst youngest Mr Rakshan Avinash Andre is 11 years old. Some of the Shaving participants also donated their hair to be made into wigs for charity.
For Kasih’s directors, this was their first time shaving their heads bald. Datuk Dr Goh bravely said; “though this is something I have not done before, there are twenty other volunteers who will shave together with me so I don’t feel alone. I am also glad it was be done a few weeks before my retirement, as I have much less official duties, yet still benefit from a network of friends and colleagues who has agreed to support my pledge.”

Mr Wong Koei Onn, a Director of Kasih Hospice, recollects: “The decision to shave my head was quite a difficult one as never in my life before had I even thought of doing anything crazy, shaving bald included. After the "Shave Head for Palliative Care" campaign was first announced, I asked myself, "Shall I pledge too to shave to show my true support for the hospice I have been passionately part of for the last 20-over years? " That question become a mental tug of war until in the middle of one night in June when it got me so worked up that I couldn't sleep and I then mustered enough courage to tell myself, "Just do it lah!" First thing the next morning before I changed my mind, I texted my fellow directors and told them "me too".
Dr Siow Chih Peng, Medical Administrator and Vice President of Kasih Hospice, says that despite its challenges the Covid-19 pandemic and all it engendered has bought everyone closer together and fostered a spirit of team work & camaraderie. “It has been such an overwhelming few months, though many suffer collateral damages of various kinds stemming from the pandemic, Kasih Foundation has really shone through all the challenges, the care and kindness shown toward each other, and our relationships with our patients and their families, donors, and volunteers, have become stronger.  The success of our  ‘Shave for Palliative Care Campaign’  has really taken all of us by surprise with so many people coming together on a deeply human level with their  generous donations and support. It’s truly humbling.’

Liow, a lawyer by training and one of the Ambassadors of the campaign shares his view:
“Hospice and palliative care resonate with my respect for the sacredness of LIFE and the reality of death. It is fascinating (and confounding at times) to see the diverse perspectives and treatments…. to see a loving approach to the fragility of life via Hospice and Palliative care fortifies the mantra of Life being a gift! Needless to say, (hospices) address the need for the optimal environment to face death with dignity, and acceptance.”
The hospice is very grateful to its Ambassadors, donors, volunteers and members of the public for participating in this campaign and helping to ensure that community Hospice continues to survive and thrive.
On 5th December, Kasih Hospice Foundation, a community hospice based in Klang Valley, Malaysia, held its 2nd Interfaith Dialogue digitally on the platform Zoom. Covering the topic ‘Discovering Faith Perspectives on End-of-Life Care’, the hospice invited four interfaith speakers and subject matter experts from the Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu faiths. The 2.5-hour session provided a succinct view of what comprises a good death from a certain religion’s perspective. It also helped clarify theological rationales for certain rules or established practices, and how certain framing or understandings of them might be more helpful than others. It ended with the experts’ personal views on end-of-life care and death.

The first part of our Dialogue consisted of talks by our four invited speakers. The respective speakers were the Honorable Geshe Tenzin Zopa from the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition, who joined us from Australia; Professor Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, Director of Interreligious Chaplaincy at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California; Reverend Father Dr. Clarence Devadass of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Director of the Catholic Research Centre, Malaysia; and Mr Thurai Chantheran, head of Interfaith at the Malaysian Organisation for Hindu Knowledge, Science, History + Art (MOKSHA).
Top from the left: Geshe Tenzin Zopa, Mr Thurai Chantheran & Datuk Dr Goh Pik Pin (President, KHF)
Middle from the left: Prof. Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, Rev. Father Dr. Clarence Devadass & Dr Richard Lim

Bottom: Ms Catherine Ooi (GM, KHF)
More than 2,000 participants from 7 countries attended Kasih’s Interfaith Dialogue live over Zoom as well 5 social media platforms. A simultaneous live translation into Mandarin was enabled via partnership with the Taitung Foundation Inc,  which attracted some 500 viewers to the livestream on its Facebook channel.

In the second part of our Dialogue, we invited Dr Richard Lim, National Advisor of Palliative Care to the Ministry of Health, Government of Malaysia, to give the public his perspective on psycho-social and spiritual care in End-of-Life Care as well as Palliative Care, and the place spirituality plays within it. We concluded with an hour of Q&A.

Kasih Hospice Foundation prioritizes psycho-social and spiritual education as well as medical caregiving as a core competency in making sure families have the skill, knowledge, and --  equally important --  confidence and reassurance --  to care for their loved ones at home. As a multicultural, multi-religious country, with diverse medical teams, patient families, staff, and volunteers hailing from every ethnic group and nationality, we believe in the importance and urgency of Interfaith Dialogues that serve to elevate and encourage the principles of Universal Compassion.
If you have missed the insightful event, you may watch recording here
YouTube YouTube
Facebook Facebook


You may also download the Slides Presentations shared by our panelists in Slideshare.
To Die with No Regrets
Interesting story featuring Kasih Hospice dedicated nurse Nurul Izza in The Star (Family) on Dec 4, 2020. (by The Star/Ming Teoh)

While it’s important to live with no regrets, it’s also important to die with no regrets, hospice nurse Nurul Izza Yusub believes. Nurul Izza has been a hospice nurse for seven years. Palliative care ensures a patient has a quality life even when they have a life-limiting illness such as cancer. Just because they are dying, it doesn’t mean they should suffer that pain – whether physical or emotion – or not have a quality end of life.

Kasih Hospice nurse Nurul Izza prepares the medication and supplies for her patients.
Photo credit: The Star/Yap Chee Hong
The Star - To die with no regrets The Star - To die with no regrets
The Pain Healers
(The Star/Ming Teoh on December 4, 2020)
 
“Unfortunately, many aren’t aware of what a hospice is or what we do. Many also don’t realise that a hospice’s services are provided free-of-charge, or that hospices are funded solely through public donations. Most of the hospices are badly affected by the pandemic” - Catherine Ooi.

Prescribing love and care
"While it’s good to live well, it’s also important to die well," says Dr Vanitha Thangaratnam, who has been with Kasih hospice for 12 years. Hospice is not just about dealing with “pain and symptom management”, but also “emotional and mental pain due to unresolved life issues such as unforgiveness, sibling rivalry, or estranged relationships”.

Left: Hospice nurse provides training to a patient’s family member on how to use an oxygen concentrator.
Right: Kasih Hospice loans equipment, like this wheelchair, to its patients free-of-charge.
Photo credit: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

Kasih Hospice has mainly cancer and non-dialysis renal failure patients, currently around 220 patients being cared for by three doctors and six nurses. There are also numerous volunteers who help out in various capacities including hospital visits and fund raising.

The hospice accept patients irrespective of age, race, nationality, socio-economic status, as long as within it’s within their area of coverage and diagnosis frame. Although the majority of their patients are adults, especially the elderly, there are also a few children. Patients come to them mainly through hospital referrals.

The Star - The Pain Healers The Star - The Pain Healers
Providing Palliative Care in the Community
on December 3, 2020 together with
Dr Lam Chee Loong
Consultant in Palliative Medicine & Chairman of Malaysian Hospice Council
Ms Catherine Ooi
Vice-Chairman of MHC & General Manager of Kasih Hospice Foundation

 
Community hospices play an important role in providing care and comfort to patients living with a serious illness. But it remains a taboo and difficult subject to bring up because many still associate it only with a patient’s death. To help us understand the role of community hospice, stay tune by clicking the logo link.
I want to made a Donation

Kasih Hospice is a non-profit that depends on your donation to survive. We are still going strong and remain deeply committed to our patients through the MCO period. Any pledge or donation you make would go a long way towards our hospice services.   
 
If you know of someone or have a friend whom you think might be interested in becoming a donor or subscribing to our newsletter, please do register their emails to receive future newsletters.  

Special Issue
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We are so grateful that you could be here to celebrate the holidays with us and share in our good cheer!
May your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, compassion and goodwill.
And may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year !

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