Social Prescribing programmes at SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH) integrate health and social care with the aim of improving patients’ overall health and well-being. In addition to organising patient activities during their hospital stay, SCH patients are also connected with community care providers upon discharge, to encourage the continuation of these activities and anchor them well in the community.
The Arts for Healing Programme is one of SCH’s Social Prescribing programmes which was started in 2021 with a generous gift from STMicroelectronics.
The Programme kick-started with Percussion Workshops led by a group of Allied Health Professionals at Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH) and Outram Community Hospital (OCH), with volunteers from all walks of life.
“Music therapy has been known to help improve patient cognitive function and also boosts their creativity. These sessions have helped to elevate patients’ moods and improve their psychological well-being as they recover physically,” said Low Zheng Yi, Occupational Therapist, SKCH, who is part of the team leading the initiative.
Patients attending the percussion workshops get the opportunity to fashion their own musical instruments such as drums, tambourines and castanets, using recycled material, before the music session begins. A trainer from SoulRhythmic, a social enterprise seeking to make a social impact using music & rhythm, helps to facilitate the weekly sessions.
“Using music to engage our patients during their long hospital stays is a fun new way to conduct rehabilitation programmes. Patients are visibly happier during the sessions and they feel a sense of accomplishment making and playing their own instruments,” Zheng Yi added.
A horticulture programme is the latest addition to the programmes organised by the SCH rehabilitation team and has proven to be a big hit among patients. The goal is to introduce gardening as a leisure activity for patients to enjoy in their homes and later on in the community after their discharge.
To mimic the community gardens located across many HDB estates, the rehabilitation team has started to build vegetable gardens and a sensory garden that can engage patients' senses of sight, smell and touch. They grow herbs such as oregano, rosemary and curry leaves; vegetable such as kang kong, chye sum and chili; as well as flowers such as rose, chrysanthemum and roselle.
Under the horticulture programme, patients take part in repotting and planting new seeds, watering plants, and even harvesting fruits and vegetables for use in the rehabilitation cooking sessions. These simple exercises help to train patients in endurance, strength and memory, such as remembering which plant they watered.
For most patients, this is also an opportunity to get out of their wards and engage in meaningful and fun activities.
“We have one patient from our palliative care ward who especially loves to visit the garden. On her first visit, she was so excited to see the flowers and plants that she kept exclaiming ‘flowers, flowers!’ to the point that she got breathless. Since then, she always asks her occupational therapist to bring her to the garden more frequently. It is something she looks forward to all the time,” said Priscilla Leong, an occupational therapist at OCH.
Priscilla shared that the horticulture programme has also been a learning experience for the rehabilitation team. “Not all of us in the team are avid gardeners so we have been experimenting with various gardening methods. Most of the time, we depend on Google or ask our family and friends for advice. We also learn from our patients who garden at home. Besides getting to do what they love, this programme gives patients a sense of purpose to share their knowledge and skills with others,” she said.
By addressing a patient’s social determinants of health beyond their medical needs, SCH hopes that these social prescribing programmes can make a difference in providing holistic and continuous care to patients.
If you would like to support social prescribing programmes at SCH, please write to the SCH Community Relations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org .
On 4 March 2022, SingHealth celebrated Allied Health Day, to pay tribute to our Allied Health professionals who devote their time towards the holistic care and well-being of our patients. If you like to make a gift in support of their work, write to email@example.com.