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Reconnecting with the past

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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

  • Electric steamer,
  • Flour and gula melaka,
  • Cupcake holders,
  • Sifter and stainless steel mixing bowls

These ingredients and items would be used to make delicious Huat Kueh for the elderly patients at Sengkang Community Hospital’s Ward 77. The catch? They have to make it themselves.


For the unfamiliar, Huat Kueh (palm sugar steamed muffin) is a snack traditionally made or bought during the Lunar New Year, as it signifies good luck and prosperity for the family. This cooking session is the third out of the 16 therapy sessions that will be conducted together with patients as part of the Reminiscence Therapy Programme which SCH is collaborating with the National Heritage Board (NHB), starting at Sengkang Community Hospital.

Preceding the Huat Kueh-making session, our CEO, Ms Margaret Lee, and Ms Chang Hwee Nee, CEO of the NHB had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as both institutions commit to work closely together to explore ways in which care can be extended to patients beyond the biological aspect, with the Reminiscence Therapy Programme as the first of collaborations with NHB.

Titled “Ageing Gracefully”, this programme is an initiative led by the Medical Social Services (MSS) team at SKCH. By combining reminiscence therapy with clinical intervention by the MSS team, programme outcomes include improving the overall mood, cognition and well-being of older patients through a series of activities and events.

Every Tuesday afternoon for a period of 16 weeks, patients will be engaged in activities that would encourage them to revisit and reconnect with their past with the support of volunteers and medical social workers, as well as with guidance provided by the subject matter experts from NHB.

Some of these activities include focus group discussions where patients share with one another stories using pictures, familiar objects and items or sound recordings from the past, walking down memory lanes by visiting NHB’s Heritage Institutions such as the Indian Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, as well as doing individual life reviews based on their life experiences.

The Huat Kuehs were ready after an hour of preparation, sifting of flour, pouring of the Gula Melaka mix into the mini cupcake holders and putting them into the electric steamer.


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Patients were all smiles as they took a bite of the specially prepared goodies.


To them, this activity meant more than just keeping themselves occupied during their stay in the ward. The Lunar New Year period is approaching and being able to participate in such activities brings a sense of comfort and familiarity, as if they were home celebrating the occasion with their families.