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Once A Patient, Now A Caregiver

Spending Mother’s Day in the hospital is no fun but patients at Outram Community Hospital (OCH) were cheered up when they received origami flowers that were lovingly folded by a volunteer.

What made the gift even more precious was that the volunteer Ms Ong Po Choo was just discharged from OCH herself months ago and has Parkinson’s disease (a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes uncontrollable muscle shaking and stiffness).

Despite her medical condition, Po Choo found much joy in folding origami – a hobby that was rekindled during her stay at OCH. Ms Winnie Woon, then-Patient Activity Coordinator (PAC) with the Outreach & Volunteers team, recalled how she was wrapping up patient activities for the day when she noticed Po Choo fiddling with a piece of paper.

Curious, Winnie approached Po Choo and found her folding a little paper rabbit with a food order form. She then discovered that Po Choo’s interest in origami started way back in school, ever since learning some basic shapes as a young student.

Winnie said, “It is important to engage our patients through different activities and support them emotionally. When they feel supported and engaged, it reduces their stress and helps them along in their recovery journey.”

After that encounter, Winnie passed Po Choo some origami paper tocontinue her hobby. Little did she know that that would mark the start of Po Choo’s volunteering journey with SCH!

During her hospital stay, Po Choo participated in virtual origami sessions that the Outreach & Volunteers team organised for patients. Winnie also scheduled origami get-togethers in the wards for patients, much to Po Choo’s delight. “My interest in origami is back in full force and I even went online to learn different kinds of origami art!” Po Choo shared.

With her passion in full bloom, Po Choo went on to create many beautiful artworks with origami flowers. The Outreach & Volunteers team even enrolled her as an unofficial trainer, teaching other patients to appreciate and fold origami artwork of their own through lessons and workshops. Upon discharge, Po Choo made a special origami artwork to thank the care team for taking such good care of her.

Inspired by her experience with the OCH team, Po Choo expressed the wish to continue giving back as she is grateful for all that she has received during her hospital stay. She handmade origami lanterns for patients to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with their caregivers in the hospital.

Winnie shared, “I am encouraged to know that our different activities have touched the hearts of our patients and lifted their spirits. This is what we hope to do for all of them!”