Ivan is present in almost all the pain assessment and individual advice sessions of Health in Action. He is not a patient, but the volunteer physiotherapist who offers assessment and treatment in strain injuries for low-income working families.
The demand for physiotherapy services of low-income groups is increasing. Yet, the services provided by the public sector have always been insufficient. Ivan said that he always wanted to provide the low income group with professional examination, teach them how to avoid worsening injury conditions and the techniques in relieving pain, as these injuries affect their abilities to earn a living.
‘As a physiotherapist working in the public medical system, I have to work according to the systematic arrangement and routines. Therefore, there are quite a lot of ideas in my mind that cannot be put into practice,’ said Ivan. ‘However, as a volunteer at Health in Action, I am able to explain the fallacies/misconceptions towards the injuries to the patients, discuss with them about changing some bad habits in their daily lives, offer empowerment services and tailor specific treatments for them according to their job natures and lifestyles.’
Breaking the rules
Ivan mainly volunteers in the health projects for low-income working families but he realised that there is an increasing demand for medical support for the ethnic minorities and refugees in Hong Kong, hence he decided to focus on this as well. Ivan stated that there were a lot of low-income ethnic minority families in Kwai Tsing District. These families do not have high health consciousness and there are not much health care communities for them either. According to the population census in 2011, 3.3% of the total population in the Kwai Tsing District were ethnic minorities, which had risen from 2.3% in 2006.
Health in Action has been actively extending our services to ethnic minorities. We have been initiating and promoting a change in the system on health access and related projects. The ethnic minority groups will be included in these projects, in addition to the existing refugees project. Ivan stated that he concurred with these views and the directions of Health in Action in the upcoming year and he would give his full support to Health in Action.
To reach the needy
‘Everyone lives within a system but we should also live with humanity. We should humanise health and medical care issues as they are different towards different persons,’ said Ivan. He shared with us a story about holding a talk about backbone protection for 50 taxi drivers, and he told us giving out information according to the books was useless. ‘I explained to the drivers that they should squat whenever they have to carry heavy luggages for the passengers. In fact, this is not a practical suggestion for them as it takes more time. In addition, wheelchairs are huge and very heavy. It would not be hard to imagine how serious it would be for a taxi driver if he/she drives for wheelchair users frequently.’ Ivan then suggested that it would be great if the trunk of the taxi can be redesigned like the ones in trucks. The easier loading can be one of the solutions to reduce work injuries.’
As an optimistic person who is willing to offer his helping hands to others, Ivan finds pleasure in volunteering in Health in Action.