In-Conversation With Occupational Therapist Janet Pua

Janet at the SPD Day Rehabilitation Centre

Janet at the SPD Day Rehabilitation Centre

25-year-old Janet Pua is an occupational therapist (OT) from the SPD Therapy Hub team. She joined the organisation in September 2011 after a year of service in a hospital. Since then, her job as an OT has taken her to voluntary welfare organisations and nursing homes across the island that had engaged the therapy services of SPD. The Nanyang Polytechnic alumna has worked with geriatric and paediatric clients with various conditions from stroke, spinal cord injury and hip fracture to cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and dementia.

As Janet helps and guides her patients along, she is also living her dream of reaching out to help others and contributing back to the society.

Q: What is a day in the life of Janet Pua, the occupational therapist, at SPD?

JP: My main role as an occupational therapist is to assess, plan and implement occupational therapy programmes for clients receiving rehab services. As a member of the SPD Therapy Hub team, I have provided occupational therapy services to clients from both SPD programmes and patients from external organisations . My various assignments have taken me to nursing homes, sheltered homes, dementia day care centres and of course the SPD Day Rehabilitation Centre. I actively participate in the trans-disciplinary team of professionals to provide holistic rehabilitative treatment for individuals with different disabilities. I also conduct training for caregivers and other professional staffs on occupational therapy-related topics.

Q: What does an occupational therapist do?

JP: An occupational therapist is concerned with promoting health and well-being of a person through meaningful activities. Occupational therapists assess, treat and assist individuals to perform important and purposeful activities of daily living by using a range of treatment techniques and approaches. Being client-centred and holistic, occupational therapists apply clinical skills and knowledge to enhance the quality of life for their clients in all age groups.

Q: How is occupational therapy different from its close cousin, physiotherapy?

JP: Occupational therapists use meaningful activities such as feeding and dressing themselves, and shopping to facilitate task performance and improve health. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable individuals to participate successfully in activities of daily living such as self-care, work and leisure. On the other hand, physiotherapists provide services to restore, develop and maintain maximum movement, physical strength and the functional ability of a person. Their primary aims are to address the individual’s mobility and balance.

Q: What motivated you to become an occupational therapist?

JP: I have been a volunteer in my church since I was young. Being an occupational therapist is in line with my desire to help people. The volunteering experience inspired me to help people and reach out to others. It also enhanced my passion to contribute to society. The service nature of an occupational therapist’s role provides me with many opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.

Q: What is the greatest reward of your job?

JP: The smiles on my clients faces are the greatest reward of my job. It brings me joy and satisfaction to see my clients getting back to their lives with a positive mind.

Q: Share with us a memorable work-related experience.

JP: In one of my SPD Therapy Hub project, I was assigned to provide occupational therapy to a home for people with different physical disabilities. These clients have many limitations in their abilities, such as being unable to move their body freely and facing difficulties in communicating. As an occupational therapist, I used different approaches, adaptive strategies and devices to engage them in different activities, involving community outing, art and craft group, dance performance and watching movies. Their joy, smiles and laughter during activity engagement are most rewarding and memorable for me.

Q: In your opinion, what traits must one possess to be a good occupational therapist?

JP: Being an occupational therapist takes passion, patience, empathy, determination and creativity. Most of all, occupational therapists should respect all individuals, keeping in mind that our clients have values, beliefs, or lifestyles that are different from ours. Knowing this, occupational therapists should work towards providing client-centred treatment and guide clients to pursue goals that have personal and social meaning.

Q: If you are not an occupational therapist, what would you be doing today?

JP: I would like to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation established by Mother Teresa. I hope I can continue my journey and my mission in life to spread love and help underprivileged people.

SPD bids temporary farewell to Janet as she goes on to further her OT knowledge by taking up a degree course at the end of August this year.