Local Speakers

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Ms CHEE Wai Yee

Ms Chee Wai Yee is currently a Programme Director with Singapore Hospice Council and Senior Director of Grief Matters, a movement by Montfort Care, founded to rally support for the bereaved. She was the former Executive Director of Children’s Cancer Foundation and Head of Department with Dover Park Hospice leading a team of Social Workers and Creative Arts Therapists to provide psychosocial care for patients and families. Since receiving her MSc in Palliative Care from King’s College London, she has helped built training curriculum in palliative care for social workers and healthcare professionals, contributed in several committees that promote advance care planning, patient and family advocacy, psychosocial care for palliative care patients and their caregivers, including bereavement support. She received the Outstanding Social Worker award from the President of Singapore in 2016.

Synopsis:

Plenary Session 1 – From Research To Practice: The Forward Journey 

Grief Matters, Does It?

The first Centre for bereavement care in Singapore, Grief Matters was birthed from a local landscape study and in response to a call to legitimise bereavement support in the community. With a 3-year pilot funding secured, the team worked with partners to experiment with different approaches to promote grief and death literacy, and offer individual and group support for the bereaved. The presentation will focus on the data set of bereaved persons who were supported by Grief Matters in its first two years in service. It will review the profile of 184 bereaved persons who were supported, share preliminary lessons drawn and reflect on its value in the ecosystem of support for the bereaved.

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Ms Rachel CHEW

Ms Rachael Chew has graduated from Hwa Chong Institution in 2019. Eager to chart her own path, she took a gap year to learn more about making an impact. She took on 7 jobs from start-ups to law firms and co-founded Mental Health Collective SG. She loves sunsets and embarking on learning adventures – from Spanish to dancing, to programming and yoga. You can find her researching about existence and emotions, to the best coffees in town. Rachael recently founded One Life, in the hopes of helping others to empower themselves.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session C1  – Learning From The Experts: Living With Loss

When I was 12 years old, I watched my mum take her last breath. She was my best friend and the one I loved the most. Grief became my new best friend – struggle, pain, love, sadness, contemplation. It walked with me through PSLE and secondary school, through junior college and every day of my life. I hope to share my story – of transforming grief for my mum into a boundless love for life.

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Ms Jolene CHIANG

Jolene is a registered Art Psychotherapist and specialises in areas of mental health, trauma, grief and loss. She has a decade experience in community development, managing healthcare and education projects with NGOs and government agencies in Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Her psychodynamic art therapy practice includes individual art therapy and group art therapy, integrating mindfulness and somatic approaches to support bereaved persons in meaning-making and restoration. Jolene is the Project Lead and Creative Director of Singapore’s first co-created community art exhibition on grief and loss. She conceptualised and implemented Tapestries of Grief: Witnessing through Art Therapy, a nation-wide initiative in collaboration with more than 14 community partners.

Tapestries of Grief: Witnessing through Art Therapy has created positive impact and garnered more than 200 artworks contributed by bereaved persons from all walks of life and ages, including helping professionals from community agencies and healthcare institutions to rally for compassionate grief support in the community.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session C2 – Grief And Death Literacy

Tapestries of Grief: Rallying for a Compassionate Community & Re-Imagination of Future Possibilities

Tapestries of Grief is Singapore’s first grief festival including talks, workshops and a community art exhibition. In collaboration with more than 14 community partners, the nation-wide initiative aims to honour diverse grief expressions of bereaved persons, as well as engage helping professionals and wider community to create a compassionate and understanding ecosystem for grief support.

In this talk, Tapestries of Grief: Witnessing through Art Therapy is delved deeper. The community art exhibition includes artworks co-created by bereaved persons and helping professionals which is exhibited at Plaza Singapura.

We explore the themes which garnered more than 200 “remembrance balls” and yarn butterfly artworks from participants, as we bear witness to their personal stories of human love and loss.

Whether it is grieving as a family, grieving at the workplace, grieving in a resident nursing home, or grieving for patients as a healthcare professional – using creative arts and digital media, we hear directly from the voices of bereaved and witnesses of grief for the first time and offer re-imagination of future possibilities.

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Ms Lydia FOO

Ms Lydia Foo is an Assistant Senior Social Worker with Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) and a registered social worker. Lydia graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) from the National University of Singapore, majoring in Social Work. Trained in working with children and young adults with cancer and their families, Lydia provides casework management, psychosocial support, as well as palliative and bereavement support to families in need at CCF. Journeying alongside CCF families has also sparked her interest in grief and bereavement work. Currently, she co-manages the palliative and bereavement programmes at CCF.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session B2 – Multiplying The Healing Power

Finding Hope in Brokenness: Reflections from CCF Bereavement Support Group

Love Continues is an open support group by Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) for bereaved caregivers who have lost their children to cancer.  It provides bereaved caregivers with a support system through the sharing of similar grief experiences and allows the forging of friendship among the caregivers. Creative arts is used as a therapeutic tool in the programme to help bereaved caregivers cope with the loss of their child by integrating the reality of loss into the ongoing story of their lives, while also reconstructing continuing bonds with their loved ones.

Kintsugi, meaning “Golden Journey”, is a Japanese art form for repairing broken pottery with seams of gold. Based on the idea of embracing imperfections, the philosophy and metaphor of this art form are powerful in helping the caregivers make meaning of their bereavement journey. In this session, we will be sharing our reflections from one of our group sessions, where we incorporated elements of Kintsugi to explore the brokenness, healing, and transformation of the caregivers’ grief experiences.

AlakanandaGudi

Dr Alakananda GUDI

Dr Alakananda Gudi has a special interest in psychological issues in palliative care and has worked closely with the National Cancer Centre Singapore’s palliative team for the last 2 years. Born and raised in India, she completed her medical school and obtained her membership from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London in 2009 where she completed her higher psychiatry training and received her accreditation in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry in 2011. After having worked for 18 months as consultant psychiatrist in Newham General Hospital, London, Dr Gudi moved to Singapore to be closer to her family and has been working as a consultant in the psychiatry department since 2014. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in oncology and palliative care and started an acute psycho-oncology / palliative care clinic at Singapore General Hospital for psychiatric issues in cancer patients, which is running successfully in its second year now. She hopes to continue to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and families who have been suffering with psychological issues and to learn and share from everyone.

Dr HO Lai Peng

Dr Ho Lai Peng graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and PhD in Social Work from the National University of Singapore and a Master of Social Work from Washington University, St Louis. A veteran social worker with close to 30 years of experience, she currently serves as a Principal Social Worker with the Care and Counselling Department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. In her illustrious career since 1991, Dr Ho has contributed greatly to the field by serving in various committees such as the National HIV Policy Review Committee Working Group, the Research Steering Committee, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology and the Family Resource & Education Centre Committee. Her clinical interests include Infectious Diseases, and Grief and Bereavement. Her commitment and passion as a social worker won her the Outstanding Social Worker Award in 2005. Her invaluable contributions also won her the Healthcare Humanity Award, the National Day Commendation Medal, the AHS Outstanding Clinical Educator Award and the NHG Teaching Award for Allied Health Senior Educators.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session A3 – Professional Self In Grief Support

Professional Grief in a Pandemic 

Much has been written about the grief of family members and significant others but much less is known about the grief of professionals who care for the sick and dying. This could be due to the perception that expressions of grief by professional care providers are unacceptable, and this has been identified by Kenneth Doka as disenfranchised grief. Professional care providers are further impacted professionally and personally by the uncertainty of this long-drawn pandemic. Restrictions on visitation by patients’ loved ones mean that healthcare providers have to play a more active role in facilitating their grief process. Healthcare providers may have to be the surrogate comforters for patients in the absence of their loved ones. As healthcare providers are exposed to the grief of others, we also go through the personal stressors of living through this pandemic. It is imperative for us to acknowledge our grief and seek the necessary support. 

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Dr LEE Geok Ling

Dr Lee Geok Ling, PhD, RSW, FT is an Associate Professor with the Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore. She is also a registered social worker with the Singapore Association of Social Workers, a certified fellow in Thanatology with the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) based in United States, and a member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement (IWGDDB). Dr Lee has received the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award for Academic Year 2016-17, as well as FASS Faculty Excellent Teacher Award for Academic Years 2015-16 and 2016-17. In addition, she is appointed by the Singapore Hospice Council as a member of a workgroup that is developing national guidelines for psychosocial and spiritual care service delivery. Her research interests include death, dying and bereavement; loss and grief; caregiving; quality of life; palliative care and end-of-life care. Her studied populations include patients with advanced cancer, receiving palliative care or end-of-life care, and their families. Dr Lee has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and research reports, and has presented at the regional and international conferences. 

Synopsis:

Plenary Session 1 – From Research To Practice: The Forward Journey

Perceived Bereavement Care Needs in Singapore: What Did We Learn From Research?

Do bereaved individuals need bereavement care and support? How are we doing in bereavement care service provision? These are questions that the presentation will attempt to answer by examining the bereavement care needs from the bereaved individuals and service providers’ perspectives, based on the empirical findings of the bereavement landscape study. Specifically, the types of bereavement care needs, services available, as well as the challenges, barriers and service gaps will be presented. The presentation will end with rethinking the concept of bereavement care and support and service delivery approaches.

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Ms Valerie LIM

Ms Valerie Lim is a mother of three and a social advocate for child bereavement support. Since losing her daughter, Ning, to viral encephalitis 21 years ago, she has co-founded three peer-support groups – Child Bereavement Support Singapore, Pieta Singapore, and the PleaseStay Movement. These groups focused on helping bereaved parents cope with loss and live lives purposefully, with patience and grace. Together with team members, Valerie conducts monthly support group meetings, offers bereavement support talks to medical students and healthcare providers, and welcomes discussions on grief support strategies with anyone. Personally, she attributes her own growth “post-Ning” to a strong “care-team”, comprising a loving spouse, helpful family and attentive friends, and to the close bonds she has built with other bereaved parents through their grief journey.  You may click on the following links for resources for bereaved parents:

Dr Patricia NEO

Dr Neo is currently Senior Consultant/Head at the Division of Palliative Medicine in National Cancer Centre Singapore and Head, SingHealth Supportive and Palliative Care Centre. Her research interests include end-of-life care, quality improvement and service delivery, where she has garnered several grants and awards. She holds teaching appointments of Adjunct Assistant Professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and Senior Clinical Lecturer at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. She serves as Chair at Singapore Hospice Council and Chair of the Clinical Review Committee at HCA Hospice Care.

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Dr Carolyn NG

Dr Carolyn Ng, PsyD, FT, MMSAC, RegCLR maintains a private practice, Anchorage for Loss and Transition (for more information, please visit: www.anchorage-for-loss.org).  She also serves as Associate Director and Faculty with the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition in Portland, OR, United States.  Previously, she was a Principal Counsellor with the Children’s Cancer Foundation in Singapore, specialising in cancer-related palliative care and bereavement counselling support.  She is a registered counsellor, master clinical member and approved clinical supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC).  She is also a Fellow in Thanatology (FT) registered with the Association of Death Education and Counselling (ADEC), USA; as well as a consultant to a cancer support and bereavement ministry in Sydney, NSW, Australia.  She is certified in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and Narrative Therapy as well.

Carolyn first graduated with Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, Australia, majoring in psychology, followed by Master of Social Science (Counselling) from the Edith Cowan University, Australia and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (Conflict Management) from the Trinity Theological Seminary, USA.  She subsequently completed her doctoral training in psychology with the California Southern University, USA.  She is also trained in the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, USA, community crisis response by the National Organisation for Victim Assistance (NOVA), USA, as well as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) by LivingWorks, Canada.  She is a trained end-of-life doula and a certified Advanced Care Planning facilitator as well.

Her wide counselling experiences cover youth delinquency issues, marital issues, family violence issues, mental health issues, incarceration issues, grief and loss issues, and crisis interventions.  She has varied supervisory experiences with such helping professionals as counsellors, social workers and therapists in diverse settings as well.  She also conducts training workshops and presents on various topics in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, as invited by different organisations both in Singapore and other countries like Malaysia, Taiwan, Bhutan, Australia and United States over the years.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session B3 – Service Models and Competency Building

Raising A Well-Trained Workforce: A Hierarchy Model of Competency Building in Bereavement Care

Loss and grief are a fundamental part of human life, yet, they are seldom a part of training programmes for most helping professionals. Following the death of someone significant in life, though many find their ways through the valley of grief without professional help, subgroups of individuals struggle with persistent and debilitating grief that precipitates further mental health complications in the aftermath of the loss. While there is a public health model of bereavement support formulated to assess bereavement risks and needs for support, and there are bereavement support standards and care pathways developed, there is a lack of trained workforce to deliver such support services and qualified grief specialists are at a premium. A hierarchical model of competency building will be introduced with various training foci for different groups of support providers, ranging from laypersons to helping professionals.

Ms Ng San San photo

Ms NG San San

Ms Ng San San is a Principal Social Worker with the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) and a registered social worker. She is experienced in working with children and young adults with cancer and their families. Apart from casework management, psychoeducation, psychosocial risk assessments, San San also provides palliative care and bereavement counselling and support. Her passion is in grief and bereavement counselling and she spearheads and currently co-facilitates the bereavement support group in CCF.

San San graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore, majoring in Social of Work and has a Masters in Counselling from Monash University.  She is also a Certified Thanatologist, registered with the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Synopsis:

Breakout Session B2 – Multiplying The Healing Power

Finding Hope in Brokenness: Reflections from CCF Bereavement Support Group

Love Continues is an open support group by Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) for bereaved caregivers who have lost their children to cancer.  It provides bereaved caregivers with a support system through the sharing of similar grief experiences and allows the forging of friendship among the caregivers. Creative arts is used as a therapeutic tool in the programme to help bereaved caregivers cope with the loss of their child by integrating the reality of loss into the ongoing story of their lives, while also reconstructing continuing bonds with their loved ones.

Kintsugi, meaning “Golden Journey”, is a Japanese art form for repairing broken pottery with seams of gold. Based on the idea of embracing imperfections, the philosophy and metaphor of this art form are powerful in helping the caregivers make meaning of their bereavement journey. In this session, we will be sharing our reflections from one of our group sessions, where we incorporated elements of Kintsugi to explore the brokenness, healing, and transformation of the caregivers’ grief experiences.

Ms Peh Cheng Wan photo 1

Ms PEH Cheng Wan

Ms Peh Cheng Wan has more than 15 years of experience as a Medical Social Worker and Counsellor. She has been a clinical supervisor and mentor, specialising in the field of palliative and end-of-life care. Following her stint in the hospice sector, she joins Viriya Community Services to continue her contribution in the area of family and specialist services.

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Ms Carine TAN

A keen listener and strong believer in the power of authentic storytelling, Ms Carine Tan co-founded Our Grandfather Story during her days at Nanyang Technical University.

Carine is the main director/producer for the “Can Ask Meh?” studio series, which helps foster open and honest conversations. Her series’ episode on bereaved parents titled “Parents Who Have Lost A Child” has reached over 5 million views worldwide organically.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session C2 – Grief And Death Literacy

Can Ask Meh? The Latent Power of Narratives in Grief Literacy

Death is viewed as a taboo topic, especially in conservative Asian societies. How do we navigate conversations about the loss of a loved one? Why is it important to talk about such a topic? Carine shares her personal experience talking with bereaved individuals and how these conversations have been impacting the global audience. 

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Ms TAN Ching Yee

Ms Tan Ching Yee is a Registered Social Worker and she currently heads a team of medical social workers, spiritual care counsellors and art therapists in HCA Hospice Care. She has more than 25 years of working experience in the acute hospital and community settings. She draws most of her learnings from working with patients and their families affected by illness and disabilities. She is interested in mentoring and supervising social workers, service development and promoting collaborative practice. Ms Tan was awarded the Outstanding Social Worker Award from the President of Singapore in 2019.

Synopsis:

Breakout Session A1 – Enhancing Grief Support In Healthcare

HCA saw about 145 deaths per month in 2020 and more than half of the deaths occurred at home. Among the bereaved families who needed grief support, we have seen parents who lost their child, young families where the lone parent and the children bear the challenges aftermath, surviving elderly spouses isolated and have limited social support; and persons with mental health and their struggles with loss and grief. Notwithstanding, our healthcare team is also impacted and grieve vicariously. At HCA, we hope to adapt the three-tier public health model on bereavement support to reach bereaved families in need in our practice. In this session, we will share the initiatives put in place to support the bereaved families; the shifts and impact we have observed as well as the challenges and learning from our experiences.

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Ms Felicia TAN

Ms Felicia Tan just wanted to be an ordinary woman with a family of her own, but things did not go as planned when she suffered 2 miscarriages. However, there was a rainbow after the storm when she welcomed her baby boy in June 2015. She founded Art Of Life Circle (AOL Circle) in 2016 to share her experiences and help women facing similar situations. Topics close to her heart include Pregnancy, Motherhood, Parenting, Miscarriages and Coping with Grief.

Felicia has spoken at these events: Women Inspiring Women (WIW), Reebonz (Dress for Success), Introvert Network Asia and Talenthoot. She has also appeared in various parenting magazines and websites, and on local newspapers, radio and television.

She shares an inspirational quote: “The journey of finding your rainbow after braving the storm is what truly makes our lives meaningful”.

Mr-Calvin-Tang

Mr Calvin TANG

Mr Calvin Tang has been serving as the Assistant General Manager of Singapore Casket Company Pte Ltd since 2008. The company was founded in 1920 and employed the first qualified embalmer in Singapore in 1957. Mr Tang was elected the President of The Association of Funeral Directors Singapore in Feb 2021. The Association promotes a code of conduct for all its members and sees as part of its role to promote high standards for the provision of funeral services and to professionally train future funeral directors.

Synopsis:

The Evolution of Funerals to Meet Different Needs of Bereaved Families

Dealing with death is never easy. As a leading voice for funeral service, The Association of Funeral Directors Singapore (AFD) has been tracking trends and working closely with its members and funeral directors for years. Today’s bereaved families are bringing new concepts, values, preferences and opinions into funeral arrangements that reflect the uniqueness and personalisation of someone’s passing. This high involvement in the funeral arrangement leads them to think differently about how they want to honour their loved ones and have new perceptions of the funeral service profession. Let’s find out how the members of AFD have implemented new elements to fulfil the needs of bereaved families that can be memorable and unforgettable.    

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Ms Venus THER

Ms Venus Ther is trained and qualified in Social Work and Counselling. She is also currently the Deputy Head of Psychosocial Services in HCA Hospice Care and oversees the psychosocial service development in day hospice. She has spent the past 10 years working with patients and families in the acute hospital and home care settings. She is interested in systemic approaches to family-based care and spiritual care interventions.

More speakers to be announced.