When Rosalind Tan joined our hospital in 1964, she was one of two Occupational Therapists practising in Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Basket weaving was one of the therapy programmes conducted by the OT Department in the earlier days.
Back then, this profession was little known and there were only around 12 OTs in Singapore. Rosalind only had 1 part-timer to help her attend to all patients.
Unlike current programmes, what we did in the past were more activity based. We conducted handicraft workshops! "
- Rosalind Tan
Rosalind recalled pushing her trolley to the wards and teaching patients how to crochet, weave baskets and make soft toys.
As TTSH was a Tuberculosis (TB) hospital in the earlier years, most of our inpatients underwent TB Rehabilitation Scheme for a period of 6 months. Although these patients were not well, they were mentally very active and eager to participate in the workshops conducted by our therapists. Rosalind along with our Diversional Therapy Unit (DTU) volunteers organised Annual Charity Events to sell their crafts.
"Our patients' handiworks sold like hotcakes! People would order for Christmas, Chinese New Year and other holiday seasons. Some patients would even buy back their own soft toys. Those were the glorious days," recalled Rosalind. These Annual Charity Sale were often featured in the national newspapers and patronised by public figures such as Mrs Lee Kuan Yew. Today, our DTU volunteers continue to organise this event annually.
It was only in the mid-70s when our OT Department began to develop more therapy programmes for patients with physical and mental disabilities. TB had started declining nation-wide and our OTs began to take in more patients with various medical conditions to improve their abilities to perform valued tasks in their daily living and work environment. From a team of two therapists, we are now about 80 strong serving our patients at TTSH, TTSH Rehabilitation Centre and in the community.