About MKAC

MKAC is a non-profit social service organization

The Muslim Kidney Action Association (MKAC) was founded as a non-profit social service organization for the benefit of the chronically ill members of our community (including kidney and organ failure patients) and their families.

Who We Are

MKAC is a registered charity with the Commissioner of Charities. It is also a registered society with the Registrar of Societies since April 2004, and a Full Member of the National Council of Social Services. Since 2004, MUIS has entrusted MKAC to manage the affairs of 300 Muslim kidney patients who are MUIS zakat recipients. Through this authority, MUIS has empowered MKAC to disburse zakat finds to 30 of the 300 kidney patients as a form of financial assistance for the direct benefit of kidney patients.

Our Kidney Patients

Since 1990, MKAC has provided assistance to kidney patients and their families in more ways than just monetary handouts. MKAC provides assistance to the whole family to provide well-rounded holistic benefits, as we believe that a strong family supports the kidney patient just as well as other forms of assistance. MKAC’s services are open to persons from all races and religions.

Kidney patient’s strains come from not just the medical condition of kidney disease, but the “fallout” from it. Patients suffer financial hardship as they are not able to work regular hours and face termination from their jobs by employers. The financial hardship leads difficulties in daily living cost, children’s education, housing, among other areas. The costs of transportation to dialysis, dialysis treatment, and medication add to these burdens.

Emotional strain is suffered not just by the patient but by the entire family. Family members face the burden of caring for the patients through various stages of the disease. Breadwinners have to earn money to pay for treatment, when many families are living on low wages, some even completely on government assistance. Patients themselves face isolation, loneliness, exclusion and guilt from suffering this disease. This is especially hard on children of kidney patients, who feel the feel the impact from the disease in the form of involuntary parental neglect, anti-social behavior and dropping out of school.

Kidney patients also suffer from other physical challenges like heart problems, visual impairment, diabetes, cancer, leukemia, high blood pressure, fatigue, disorientation among others. Some even have to face the amputation of limbs, confinement to wheelchairs and other mobility difficulties.

Our Vision

We visualize a community of people, who despite suffering from chronic disease and organ failure are confident, self reliant, live in dignity and are fully empowered to manage their own lives.

Our Mission

Our mission is to instill in persons suffering from chronic illness and organ failure, a strong sense of self belief, self-reliance and to provide them with the best opportunities to fully manage their lives.

Our Guiding Principles

We have 3 guiding principles which govern the operation of our programmes and services:

Rely on self

  • We will help patients to be self-reliant
  • We will help to instill in them a strong sense of confidence and self belief
  • We will help them to acquire skills through training and do not provide “handouts

Family as the pillar of support

  • We will help build strong family bonds
  • We will give particular attention to their children’s needs
  • We will support the family members in their efforts to improve their ability to care for the kidney patient

Many helping hands approach

  • We will work closely with partner organizations (government and social), community organizations and charitable and philanthropic institutions to benefit kidney patients and their families
  • We will help build strong sense community spirit amongst patients suffering from chronic illness and organ failure to encourage strong peer group support amongst them

Description

The Scheme takes place in two phases: Befriending and Outreach, and Direct Assistance. The Befriending and Outreach phase consists of home visits to patients for preliminary information-gathering, building rapport and trust, allowing the patients to gain familiarity and comfort with MKAC’s caseworkers and services. Direct Assistance consists of intense and focused support from MKAC to address critical needs which have fallen through the cracks of currently available services.

Privacy and Comfort for Kidney Patients:

Patients may not be able or willing to adequately and accurately share about their situations when conducting a case interview in MKAC premises. MKAC has observed a difference in the quality of information-sharing when interacting with the volunteers in the comfort of their own homes. The privacy and dedicated attention provided to each individual patient (rather than in an open group setting) help in the quality of sharing and improve counseling of patient condition.

Build Sustainable Future:

While it remains important to consider long-term solutions for patient welfare, some patients face immediate and critical threats to their basic health, shelter and physical well-being. Some are “borderline” cases that were either not qualified to receive vital support from available services. The urgent need of these families at risk may not be apparent based on current evaluation reports from existing services, but become clearly critical when an in-person home visit is made.

If the families do not break out of these immediate risk areas, they are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and distress. This trap has led to ill-health, starvation, bankruptcy, homelessness and even risk of death when treatment for chronic illnesses is not obtained. Focused and targeted assistance is urgently needed to relieve these immediate risk areas. Patients and families will then no longer be under duress, giving them a stable starting point to explore sustainable and viable solutions to other challenges.

The two-phased approach for VBS is implemented in a systematic manner outlined below:

Befriending and Outreach

Volunteer Befrienders (VBs) are briefed regarding the patients whom they are visiting, prepared with prior case reports and a timetable for the day. Patients would have given their permission before home visits are conducted.

MKAC sends 2 VBs to each household. During each visit, which lasts between 1-3 hours, VBs interact with the patient, main caretaker(s) and other family members if present. They make both visual and cognitive observations, paying attention to family dynamics, basic security and living conditions, income and education.

VBs close the visit by inviting the patients’ family to MKAC’s programmes. Families are given tokens from MKAC in thanks, and updated literature on MKAC programmes and services.

MKAC staff and VBs debrief after they discuss the observations about each family and evaluate which families should receive Direct Assistance. Each VB pair updates the case reports for each family visited.

An agenda of a typical Befriending and Outreach day is provided in Exhibit 1. Also attached as Exhibit 2, are the Guiding Principles for Volunteer Befrienders, which govern how VBs conduct themselves during home visits.

Direct Assistance

After the first home-visits, MKAC identifies families who should receive further support from Direct Assistance. Caseworkers are now assigned to the identified families.

Caseworkers analyze the financial, social and psychological situation of each patient based on the principle that all available resources that can be mobilized within the timeframes applicable. Please see Exhibit 4 for a tabular framework of the Direct Assistance analysis.

Caseworkers clearly document the actions taken and individuals/ organizations interacted with, to ensure continuity through each case report. These case reports are the cases on which MKAC and other organizations evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken, to ensure that patients’ and families’ welfare has definitely and sustainably improved.

Background

The MKAC Volunteer Befrienders Scheme (“VHBS”) was launched in 2006 to provide a direct form of quality sustainable assistance to kidney patients and their families. Since then, it has evolved from a home-visit programme to a systematic and targeted approach of providing critically-needed support to supplement the assistance from other sources. The programme is now called Family Case Management Project.

Root Causes

Reasons for distress may stem from psycho-social, health or financial conditions surrounding not only he patient but its family members. Home visits allow volunteers/caseworkers to interact with other members of the family. Living conditions and family dynamics are observed not just verbally but also visually first-hand. As signs of trouble may not be apparent when patients are not at home, this improved information-gathering process provides better context and deeper understanding for all factors that contribute to a patient’s condition – and more importantly, reveals opportunities for MKAC to identify and address the root causes.

The above observations have helped us focus the efforts of the VHBS, leading to the development of today’s 2-phased approach to productively utilize caseworkers’ and volunteers’ time.

Target Beneficiaries

MKAC has targeted the following beneficiaries for each of the phases in the programme:

  • Befriending and Outreach: Kidney patients/families in MKAC’s database, compiled from referrals by fellow organizations, or from MKAC’s other programmes. MKAC’s database identifies over 300 such families in MKAC’s database.
  • Direct Assistance: 30 families who have been identified by either MKAC or referral organizations as critically in need of assistance.

Goals

The VHBS’s operations have evolved over the past 2-3 years to better meet the needs of the patients and their families. VHBS aims to achieve the following programme goals:

  • Break the vicious cycle of poverty, illness and distress that inhibits independence and basic welfare of patients and their families.
  • Provide immediate support for critical issues affecting basic health, safety and welfare of patients and families and families to live under humane conditions with basic dignity.
  • Assist patients and families to achieve stability in order to find sustainable and viable options for their future.
  • Advocate for and obtain patients’ rightful benefits with the help of other organizations and individuals.
  • Identify and build constructive relationships with other organizations and individuals that can help address issues that affect patient welfare.
  • Report objectively and transparently on the assistance rendered to patients and resources expended for such assistance.
  • Effectively and transparently use provided budget to offer best assistance in the most direct way possible for the patients’ benefit.
  • Establish rapport and gain the trust of patients and their families in their own homes.

Indicators of Target Programme Success

Since 2006, the VHBS has visited over 100 families. The increase in the number of families who subsequently participate in MKAC programmes over the past 2 years is proof of success in our outreach activities.

Since late 2008 we have refocused our resources on Direct Assistance to a priority list of families that need critical assistance. So far assistance has been provided in the form of direct financial aid, liaising with government officers, assisting patients in court appearances, advocating with homes/care centres, case discussions with other agencies, family counselling, liaising with hospitals and doctors, sourcing for home-help and cleaning services, replacing/ replenishing necessary household items, etc.

Our work is still continuing, but we have seen indications of success in these areas:

  • Improves living conditions or home care for those medically unfit to care for themselves
  • Obtained financial assistance from various agencies for families that were previously unsuccessful in their applications
  • Successfully placed patients in jobs after immediate at-risk areas of medication and shelter were resolved
  • Demonstrated improvement in family income due to job placement
  • Returned patients’ children to education with adequate pocket-money and supervision

Target Outcomes

Following the two-phased approach, VHBS has set the following targets:

Befriending and Outreach

  • Visit 50 families in MKAC’s database
  • Increase recruitment of volunteers to provide sufficient support for the visit target
  • Update home visit checklist/report requirements to be reflective of current challenges
  • Update status of case reports of families visited