The ward entertainment area was sparsely decorated with Chinese New Year buntings and red lanterns. The TV was showing Jack Neo’s movie “The Diam Diam Era”. With eyes fixated on the TV, the elderly residents were also waiting patiently to savour the egg wafers or love letters, still baking in a corner.
Niki, our Senior Medical Social Worker was diligently baking with an electric domestic love letter maker. The fragrance of egg-flour baking into crispy wafers filled the ward. Seemingly, it was like a regular Chinese New Year celebration. However, Niki explained that this mini afternoon tea event was planned with therapeutic elements.
The familiar fragrance of lightly charred love letters whetted residents’ appetites, especially of those who usually didn’t eat well. There was a resident who followed the smell from his ward to the common area and happily joined in the tea break. The bright orange soda drinks served with the love letters reminded the elderly of the time when soda drinks were one of the few luxuries enjoyed only once a year. In addition, the chosen movie was set in the 80s, when Singapore was going through rapid economic growth and subsequently a recession. Some of the residents might have been active economic contributors then.
The smell, sight, and taste evoked memories of the elderly residents.
Furthermore, it created a bonding opportunity when residents shared similar stories of how they celebrated Chinese New Year in their younger days.
In a span of 2 weeks, Niki went to every ward with her trusty love-letter maker. She added: “Therapy need not be complicated. Sometimes, a simple experience can have a profound effect.”