To many of our patients, a haircut is precious as it not only contributes to a neat appearance, but gives them much comfort as well. For bed-bound patients who are unable to sit upright in a chair for a haircut, many caregivers often find it challenging to cut their loved one’s hair themselves.
Koh Qing Wen, our volunteer hairdresser, has been providing this service for our patients since 2017. She shared her story, “I picked up hairdressing 10 years ago as I had wanted to cut hair for my grandfather who was staying in a seniors nursing home then. After learning basic hairdressing skills from the community centre, I followed up with the instructor, who taught me more techniques at her own hair salon. She was the one who introduced me to being a volunteer hairdresser, starting out with organisations such as SPD, nursing homes, charity events like Hair for Hope, before I eventually found myself volunteering for Assisi Hospice.
I enjoy doing volunteer work because helping people makes me feel happy. To be honest, it is not easy emotionally to volunteer in a hospice, as we know that our patients are going to pass on soon. It makes me feel sad sometimes, but what comforts and keeps me going is knowing that my hairdressing service will make them feel happy and more comfortable before they depart from this world.
It is also more difficult to cut hair for hospice patients as many of the patients are bed-bound and unable to sit upright for the haircut. I will usually adapt by cutting their hair on the bed, with assistance from another volunteer or helper to gently support the patient’s head while I trim their hair. It makes me happy knowing that their caregivers feel supported by my simple service as they often find it challenging to cut their loved ones’ hair themselves.
Even though it was very tough at one point during COVID-19, especially with the additional healthcare safe measures such as doing ART test, having to cut hair with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gown, gloves and N95 mask, disinfecting all my hairdressing equipment after every patient, and having to change the PPE every time we go to a different ward, I would still do it at any chance that I get because I know that my service makes a difference for the patients. “