Poodles, border collies and other dog breeds often make special appearances at Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital.During occupational therapy sessions, dementia patients train their motor skills in novel ways by playing fetch with the dogs, or taking them for walks. Patients are more calm and motivated to engage in therapy for a longer period when the dogs visit them.

Animal-assisted therapy is just one of several initiatives that I put in place to engage patients in their rehabilitation since I joined the hospital five years ago.

Another programme that I initiated is the Dementia group class which adopts the Montessori approach that is based on hands-on learning and collaborative play. The activities encourage patients to be more independent, by getting them to piece puzzles together with the help of visual cues, for instance, instead of relying solely on help from the therapists.

My ideas are often borne out of my own research and inspired by training programmes I attended. When my ideas turn into reality to benefit patients, it makes my work incredibly meaningful and spurs me to do even more for them.

Gelena Giselle Anandarajah
Senior Occupational Therapist, Therapy Services
Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital

Winner of the Superstar–Allied Health (ILTC) Award, Singapore Health Quality Service Awards 2018