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COVID-19 Pandemic Did Not Deter IMU Pharmacy Students from Serving the Community

19 Feb 2021

As part of a project under community service for public health, a group of IMU‘s Semester 6 Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) (Hons) – Cohort BP118 students successfully conducted a community service visit to Rumah Charis elderly home under IMU Cares. The aim of this project was to educate the caregivers and the elderly residents on proper medication management and thereby provide support in building a healthier environment. The initial plan was to perform healthcare screenings during the first visit followed by medication management and cleaning of the elderly home during the second visit, as the caregivers had requested for our help to clean the elderly home. As the saying goes, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, the team had the golden opportunity to help the caregivers and serve the elderly residents at Rumah Charis, despite the disruption of many face-to-face events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During our first visit of the community service project, we had the opportunity to experience wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) including the protective suit, face shield, gloves and mask. We performed the health screenings for the elderly residents with the PPE and it was a very memorable event for all of us as this was the very first time we were exposed to it.

To add on, we are also thankful to Dr Khin Saw Yu, who is a medical doctor, for educating us on the proper usage of the glucometer and the blood pressure apparatus during the health screenings in addition to what we had been exposed to during our Semester 2 practical sessions in the BPharm (Hons) programme. She was very kind, dedicated and patient in guiding us throughout the first visit, from helping us with the PPE until guiding us on the blood glucose and blood pressure apparatus alongside with Dr Liew Yun Khoon (Dr Louis), our project advisor.

A Staff’s View on the Activity
Dr Khin Saw Yu I am really pleased to have the opportunity to contribute in a caring community project for seniors in an old aged home. Even though it was the time of rising numbers of COVID-19 infections, we had done the health screening successfully for the seniors at home following strict prevention guidelines. I expect the application of screening technique and practicing level 2 PPE for prevention of infection will be a good chance for the students to gain practical experience on how to apply what they had learnt on campus. Last but not the least is my words of thanks to Dr Louis, the project leader, for it will not be a successful activity without all his efforts.

However, due to the extension of the Movement Control Order with travel restrictions beyond 10 km from 11 January 2021, it was unfortunate that we could not reach out to help, in the cleaning of the fans, roof windows, and the ceiling, which are challenging for the caregivers at the elderly home. We were deeply saddened that we were unable to execute the activities planned for the second visit physically due to the movement restrictions. As an alternative, we created a YouTube video on medication management including medication labelling on the pillboxes, as we noticed that the medications were not labelled properly during our first visit. The team led by Dr Louis had previously educated the residents on the pillbox’s usage in Rumah Charis old folks home located at Taman Lucky, but not for the residents in the home located at Shah Alam. Fortunately, both the events that were carried out received a positive feedback from the caregivers.

Our View on the Activity
Fong Yi Hang,Volunteer It was a great session in giving students the opportunity to be exposed to volunteering and contribute to the society.
Quek Jia Yee, Volunteer I learnt and gained a lot of valuable experience on how I can help the community, despite the constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude to Rumah Charis: Home for the Aged, Dr Khin and Dr Louis for organising this volunteering opportunity. As the opportunity to serve the community or doing a volunteering activity was rare during the pandemic, the team was grinning from ear to ear when we heard about the opportunity for a physical visit. Through this event, we rediscovered the beauty of volunteering again. We were very glad to have this opportunity to help the community during these difficult times. Written by: Woon Wei Lin Reviewed by: Dr Mayuren Candasamy

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