In 2014, Lien Foundation revealed that 50% of Singaporeans were aware of palliative care, and among those who claimed to know about it, only a third could define it accurately. This is testament to the lack of understanding and open discussion on death in Singapore, despite its importance. Project Happy Apples, a local community-initiated project registered in 2012 by National University of Singapore medical students, offers support to palliative care patients, with aims to normalize conversations about death, empower future doctors and prepare society for end-of-life care.
The past 10 years, we have established initiatives aimed at medical students, members of the public and palliative patients to increase knowledge, understanding and comfort levels on conversations about about end-of-life care. These initiatives are ongoing with goals to establish PHA as the leading student organisation seeking to improve awareness of, and access to, palliative care in Singapore.
The annual public exhibition held in local heartland malls, is one of PHA’s keystone events to educate the public on the importance of early planning for end of life and to raise awareness about palliative care (Figure 1). It includes interactive stations and booths set up by students (ie. Before-I-Die boards) and partners, booths about ACP, LPA by invited speakers and anecdotes shared by palliative patients. In the 2022 exhibition, 208 participants who agreed to be surveyed reported a significant improvement in their familiarity towards issues surrounding palliative care, understanding towards concerns of palliative care and comfort level when talking about death (figure 1).
Project Happy Apples will continue to strive towards fostering a new generation of doctors who promote understanding of palliative care, and who advocate for palliative care to relieve suffering in life-limiting illness, by communicating key information and conversations about illness, dying and death amongst their peers and the general public.
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