As Ong Siew Kim, 86, harvested kangkong in St Luke’s Hospital, memories of her younger days
rekindled her heart with fond reminiscence. Siew Kim had been admitted for rehabilitation after a hip surgery.

Decades ago, she had lived in a kampung, leading a simple life farming in the day and relaxing at night. While it was hard work under the sun planting vegetables and farming animals, she said, “Those were the good old days. We had wider space to run about, and most people were happier and relaxed.”

Siew Kim was someone who had kept herself busy but with age, she became “lazy” and less active. The opportunity to plant and harvest kangkong in the hospital has motivated her to be active again as she looked forward to frying sambal kangkong to go with her meals.

Seeing patients as “partners” in their recovery journey allows therapists to come up with innovative ways in rehabilitation. At St Luke’s Hospital, leisure activities such as gardening, table tennis, lawn bowling, brain teaser games, cooking and painting are offered to motivate patients to stay active based on their interests. By allowing patients to play an active role in their therapy, it helps them to develop confidence and contribute to optimal recovery outcomes.

“Leisure participation enhances personal well-being through creative and enriching experiences. It provides a sense of belonging through meaningful communication with others, develops self-determination and provides opportunities to make decisions,” said Senior Occupational Therapist Nor Azilah Binte Pami.

“Engaging in leisure of one’s choice helps to develop positive attitudes to learning, and increases the sense of empowerment and self-value.”

Occupational therapy helps improve or maintain patients’ function, especially through activities that are meaningful to them. Leisure activity may be used as a therapeutic tool to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Azilah added, “As leisure activity is non-obligatory, patients feel in control and they may be motivated by a sense of intrinsic reward and enjoyment.”

Ong Siew Kim recalls the happy moments of her youth as she harvests kangkong in the hospital’s raised garden beds.