Our Stories: Nurturing healthy habits in complex situations

Nurturing healthy habits in complex situations


Sng Jing Ning is an occupational therapist (OT) in the MINDS Disability Case Management Programme (DCMP) —  a holistic case management service that provides specialised interventions to clients and their families with complex or high-support needs. By offering emotional support, practical coaching, and psychoeducation to families, caregivers can better address the immediate needs of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDs). The ultimate goal is to set PWIDs on a path towards a fulfilling and independent life.

As a part of the DCMP team, OT Sng Jing Ning serves clients and their families facing complex situations in their lives.

Unlike therapy services in residential or centre-based services, Jing Ning visits her clients’ homes to implement care strategies as an OT in the DCMP team. She also schedules these sessions based on each client’s needs and schedules. Jing Ning works with her team of fellow Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) like physiotherapists and social workers to assess their clients’ and caregivers’ strengths, weaknesses, and the environment they live in. With input from the clients’ caregivers and families, DCMP AHPs assess the best mode of action to help clients achieve the individualised care goals set for them, which help them prepare for future care plans. This may include providing skills training to clients, education to caregivers, or modifications to their living environment. These are not easy roles to perform, especially with different situations, circumstances and personalities to navigate with every case.

It is very rewarding to see the improvements and progress of the clients and caregivers... I am most delighted when they are able to observe and reflect to me about their own changes, and [how] they are achieving their own goals.

Sng Jing Ning
Occupational Therapist, Disability Case Management Programme

Making a tangible difference

One of Jing Ning’s most unforgettable experiences as a DCMP OT involved a pair of siblings with intellectual disabilties in their late-20s and early-30s. When Jing Ning first met the pair, they had not been upkeeping basic hygiene habits like showering and tooth-brushing regularly. The sister had not taken a bath or brushed her teeth in 6 years, while the brother had similarly infrequent showering routines. Poor living conditions like a cluttered and unsanitary environment also contributed to a sub-standard quality of life for the siblings.

With the complex set of challenges before Jing Ning and the DCMP team, Jing Ning focused on addressing their daily occupations – including showering and tooth-brushing – to improve their quality of life. Taking time to build rapport with the siblings and gaining an understanding of their personalities and motivations, Jing Ning was able to achieve a critical breakthrough in the implementation of care strategies set for them. “They were both motivated when we introduced … leisure activities like origami, colouring and badminton as a reward during each session,” she describes. Using fun as an incentive for the siblings, Jing Ning was able to encourage the siblings to keep up with their hygiene routines. 

Today, Jing Ning is happy to report that both siblings shower and brush their teeth daily. Badminton, which was one of the leisure activities introduced to the siblings, has also helped the brother develop stronger motor and coordination skills and improve his mental focus.


The siblings and Jing Ning taking a breather with a colouring activity
Jing Ning and brother in a game of badminton
Jing Ning and brother in a game of badminton 2

Jing Ning and the brother enjoying a game of badminton

While improving the other aspects of the siblings’ quality of life continues to be a work-in-progress, Jing Ning shares, “It is very rewarding to see the improvements and progress of the clients and caregivers… I am most delighted when they are able to observe and reflect to me about their own changes, and [how] they are achieving their own goals.”

Helping integrate PWIDs into wider society

The role that OTs play is crucial not just in making day-to-day activities easier for clients. It is an important step in a building a foundation to help integrate PWIDs into wider society. Improving clients’ physical and mental wellbeing, and their propensity to care of themselves improves their integration in society. For OTs like Jing Ning, that is the main motivating factor behind their drive and hard work. “Seeing them becoming more empowered assures me that I am doing the right thing.”

As MINDS celebrates its 60th anniversary, we would like to encourage a deeper understanding and empathy of PWIDs and the complexities they may face every day.

Learn more about the Disability Case Management Programme here or join the team of Allied Health Professionals serving PWIDs here.

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NOTICE OF THE 59TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF MINDS: NOTICE is hereby given that the 59th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) will be held by way of electronic means as follows: Date: Saturday , 18 September 2020 Time: 9:30am (Registration starts at 8:30am) Venue: Online via ZOOM MINDS members will be receiving an email on the notice of AGM and are strongly encouraged to register your attendance to facilitate the verification process on the day of the AGM. For enquiries regardingthe AGM, members may email to [email protected] or call 849607358