Covid-19 Stories: JagaPros Building Resilience During A Pandemic
Nurses – More than just Frontliners
Nurses are closely associated with frontline care especially during times such as the Covid-19 pandemic. However, their contribution to public health encompasses so much more. Today, we speak with Wenli, a fellow JagaPro, Covid-19 frontliner, and author of a brand new book, on her unique journey in nursing as a career, and how she uses her knowledge to help young and old combat Covid-19.
Tell us more about yourself, Mei.
I started my career with a diploma in early childhood education. I had the opportunity to work as a relief teacher and take up short-term teaching jobs in Montessori schools and childcare centres. When I got busy taking care of my two boys, I had taken up relief teaching jobs when they entered primary school.
With my background in nursing, I decided to take up a refresher course to return to practising nursing as a staff nurse, and later began providing caregiving services as a freelance nurse with Jaga-Me. Most recently, I have been busy writing my book, ‘Stay Away coronaVIRUS’!
Having spent a lot of time with my two children, I found that one of my passions is creative work for children. I embrace the opportunity to teach children values – especially when it’s life skills that they can carry through life and build on their resilience. Personally, I feel that there isn’t much of a drastic change as teaching and nursing are both service-oriented professions that are heavily reliant on human touch and connection.
What motivated you to write your book, ‘Stay Away coronaVIRUS’?
During the pandemic, people have been compelled to stay indoors for a stretched period of time. With both parents and children at home juggling work and school, tension can build up. I personally experienced this during the SARS period. It can be challenging to keep them both occupied and entertained. Those without grandparents at home, it can be even more tough on the parents. This book is meant to inspire and encourage parents to create history with their children.
Talking about Covid-19 to children can be incredibly frustrating for parents. However, it must be done – in a sensible and well-thought-out manner. The effects of the pandemic has not only upended the lives and routines of healthcare assistants, nurses and doctors, it has also impacted life at home in a big way.
Parents now face a myriad of challenges – teaching their children as they begin home-based learning, juggling their own work-from-home schedules and protecting them as the crisis unfolds. For children as young as five years old, it can be difficult to explain the nature or impact of a pandemic to them. However, it remains pertinent that children can understand in simple terms the importance of keeping clean and hygienic during a time like this. How can parents bond with and educate their children?
Authoring A Book | Parenting in a Pandemic
What is the book (‘Stay Away coronaVIRUS’) about?
It’s about a little girl teaching our young readers the right things to do during the Covid-19 pandemic. The book’s key messages centres around eating right, sleeping well and washing hands regularly with soap and water. We also focus on the importance of safe distancing, setting calm corners and staying home if unwell. The young girl in the book, Mimie, is a powerful role model for younger children as a health and hygiene ambassador.
The book is also meant to showcase the therapeutic activities that children and parents can both partake at home, be it plant-growing, drawing or cooking. We recognise that the pandemic can be confusing and stressful for children, so the activities here will hopefully occupy children in healthy ways as parents work at home.
Managing The Pandemic | Building Resilience
How do you think families can cope better with explaining the pandemic to their children?
It’s very difficult – I think children below the age of 5 may have trouble understanding. We used simple words in the book to enforce good reminders like sleeping early, eating vegetables and fruits and practising basic hygiene habits. These tips can be very useful for children and simplify steps they need to take daily.
We also proactively advocate using child-friendly language so that children don’t get confused. Wendy Wand, child psychologist and author of All Kids R Gifted contributed to these aspects in our book as well. Explaining the current situation can be daunting as it may instill fear in them. Children this young are far from understanding the language as they are still in the process of mastering the alphabet and numbers.
Do you have any advice for parents who are also facing the stress of the pandemic and work?
Both parents and children are facing high stress levels. Children are unable to socialise as before and this translates into pent-up energies at home. Parents need a corner in the house to themselves where they can unwind and relax after a day’s work. We believe that setting aside some time to engage with the children in water activities, science exploration and simple cooking are great ways to defuse their boredom. Other ways digital distancing can be practised include indoor camping and creating storybooks.
What do you hope people will take away from this book?
The most important message is in eating right, sleeping well and washing your hands. Targeted at increasing their immunity, we want children to inculcate good habits through not sharing food and drinks and practising physical distancing. We encourage parents to read the book to their children. Learning through Mimie can encourage them to model positive behaviours.
As a fellow JagaPro, how does Jaga-Me prepare you to tackle the pandemic?
Jaga-Me has sent me for several training sessions, PPE donning, swabbing and infection control. With WhatsApp updates on government protocols, we are less worried. I have to give full credit to Jaga-Me for the lead in community efforts. Hazel has helped me tremendously in preparing for home care service cases. As healthcare assistants, we are always on standby for Covid-19 cases. Hazel is always so coordinated and helpful, not skipping a beat when it comes to staying on task.
Is there a message you’d like to share with everyone?
I would advise parents to cut down on late-night Zoom meetings! It’s important to stay healthy mentally and physically, with more adults working more than ever. With work-from-home measures, there is hardly a boundary between work and rest. It is crucial to have me-time. Parents can encourage their children to assist in food preparation, house chores and basic family time.
Jaga-Me stands with our Healthcare Workers During Covid-19
Specialising in nursing and caregiving services, is committed to equipping our patients, JagaPros and partners with relevant resources and support to tide through this unprecedented time. This article is part of Jaga-Me’s effort to recognize the amazing diversity of our JagaPros, and surface the good work done in our community today.
As Wenli rightfully said, there is a real struggle to balance both work and children at home during the pandemic. This is especially so for healthcare workers such as nurses. In sharing these experiences, we hope to bring our society together with greater understanding and knowledge of tools available to support themselves and their loved ones during this crisis.
Copies of the book, ‘Stay Away coronaVIRUS’ by Mei Wenli & Cheryl Teo are available in Kinokuniya & Junior Page (KKH).
For more information on how you can get involved with Jaga-Me as a healthcare professional, read more here
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