“Being a Nonya, I love the food and the beautiful decorations at the event. For many years I haven’t worn the sarong kebaya. Today’s event reminded me of my past. I really enjoyed myself,” shared a beaming 89-year-old Mdm Phua Geok Huay.
Mdm Phua (in the photo below) was one of the sixty over seniors dressed in colourful Peranakan costumes clapping and singing along to oldies at Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens’ (LKH) inaugural Social Club launch on 26 June 2018.
The idea behind the social club is to encourage social interaction between clients living with dementia in a group setting.
“We were inspired by *Jane Verity’s Spark of Life philosophy, which aims to connect with dementia patients and understand their perspective. We hope that by introducing racial and cultural themes, the residents will not only interact more with each other, but also reminisce based on the theme of the event,” shared Abegail Gumarao Tamang, Occupational Therapist, LKH.
This Peranakan-themed inaugural event was inspired by a visit to the Peranakan Museum in 2015. The Home had brought 20 residents for the excursion, supported by AIC. It was a memorable outing for those who went, and the Home wanted to bring a taste of Peranakan culture to the residents who were not able to visit the museum.
To create an immersive experience, the multipurpose hall was transformed into a Peranakan-styled venue, and several residents helped create some of the decorations.
The Peranakan Museum even loan its Peranakan costumes to the seniors for the event.
There were delicious nonya kuehs, kueh pie tee, spring rolls and fried mee siam for tea break.
The three-part programme started with an “Invitation Ritual” whereby invitation cards were distributed to invited residents, followed by a “Welcoming Ritual” and “Ending Ritual” during the event.
During the event, Reminiscence Therapy was incorporated into the activities, such as sharing images of Peranakan food and clothes. The residents were quizzed on the images and asked to identify them. LKH staff and volunteers from Thomson Community Club and fellow friends pitched with a song and dance session, belting out a string of sings in English, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien to entertain the residents.
The residents enjoyed their Peranakan afternoon tea while enjoying the song performance by volunteers.
The residents were happy with this welcome break to their normal routine, and the event achieved what it set out to do.
“The Peranakan Social Club is a wonderful experience. As a Nonya, I felt welcomed and valued at the event. It brought back a lot of memories from my past. The songs reminded me of my childhood and the food served were all my favourites,” shared 79-year-old Mdm Susan Heng, who has been staying at the Home for five years.
The Social Club is one of six structured activities organised by the Home. After the event, the Home observed that the event ranked high on the “Activity Group Record” (AGR), which measures the residents’ enjoyment, engagement, interest, communication and mood during the activities.
The other five structured activities organised by the Home includes monthly Cooking Sessions, bi-monthly Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, Visual Arts, a quarterly wellness spa programme and Reminiscence Therapy.
The Home aims to organise events for their Social Club on a quarterly basis, and the second one will most likely be either Malay or Indian themed.
*The Spark of Life Philosophy was developed by Jane Verity, founder of Dementia Care Australia. It focuses primarily on how to connect, communicate and care for persons with dementia. The philosophy aims to redefine what it means to have dementia, and to open up new possibilities for improvement. This is done through enriching the quality of life for people with dementia.