Asst Professor Andy Hau Yan Ho – Best Oral Presentation Award

Asst Professor Andy Hau Yan Ho – 1st Place Winner of Best Oral Presentation Award at The Asia Pacific Hospice and Palliative Care Conference 2019

Congratulations to Asst Professor Andy Ho from Psychology for capturing the 1st Place Winner of the Best Oral Presentation Award presented at the Asia Pacific Hospice and Palliative Care Conference (APHC) on 4 August 2019. More than 300 abstracts were submitted to the conference and only 12 top rated abstracts were selected for oral presentation. Professor Andy’s work was deemed best among all submitted and presented works by 3 panel judges. His presentation, “Family Dignity Intervention (FDI) for advancing Holistic Care in Asia Palliative Care: Preliminary Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial”, shared the exciting results of a novel psycho-socio-spiritual intervention for enhancing hope, spiritual wellness and quality of life among terminally-ill patients and their family caregivers in Singapore.

Asst Professor Andy Ho’s Reflection on the Award

“This award is dedicated to the many end-of-life care patients and family caregivers who have placed their trust in me and my team in sharing their most intimate stories of love, hope, struggles and resilience during life’s most vulnerable and precious moments; we are honored and humbled to have walked this journey with you. This award is also dedicated to my research team at ARCH (Action Research for Community Health) Lab for their tireless effort and deepest compassion in supporting and assisting patients and families facing dying, death and mortality. This research would not have been possible without the generous support from the Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund (AcRF) Tier 2 Grant (MOE-2016-T2-1-016). We will continue to develop innovative programmes and clinically robust interventions to empower and improve the lives of those challenged by life’s adversities.”

Asst Prof Andy Ho capturing the Best Oral Presentation Award.

Asst Prof Andy Ho and his research team (ARCH Lab) at APHC 2019.

Paul Victor Patinadan – Santander Researcher Mobility Award 2019

Paul Victor Patinadan – Santander Researcher Mobility Award 2019

Congratulations to Paul Victor Patinadan (PhD Student of Psychology) for winning the prestigious Santander Researcher Mobility Award, a collaborative accolade by the University of Surrey and Santander Universities presented at the Doctoral College Conference on 10 July 2019. The title of his oral presentation was “Understanding and Facilitating Dignified Death and Holistic End of Life Care”. The Santander Researcher Mobility Award is presented to promising specialist researchers in order to encourage international exchange and facilitate cross-border collaboration.

Paul’s reflection on the award:

“It was an honour and privilege to present my work at the University of Surrey Doctoral College Conference 2019. The thrust of the conference was “Bridging the Gap”, and the event achieved that objective exceedingly well. I met many international academics from all walks of life and across different disciplines. It was humbling to share in their knowledge, experience, wisdom, and struggles in initiating positive social change. I was heartened to have so many veteran researchers interested in the work I do, and I experienced a professional kinship that I am thankful to have discovered. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to my mentor and supervisor Professor Andy Ho, and to my wonderful colleagues at ARCH (Action Research for Community Health) Lab of SSS Psychology, who continue to inspire and guide me every single day.”

Paul presenting his Dignity Research at the Doctoral College Conference 2019 at the University of Surrey, UK.

 

Dr. Hannelore Wass Cross Cultural Student Paper Award – Ms. Dutta

Dr. Hannelore Wass Cross Cultural Student Paper Award (2019) –

Ms. Oindrila Dutta

Our PhD student, Ms. Oindrila Dutta, was awarded the Dr. Hannelore Wass Cross Cultural Student Paper Award at Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)’s 41st Annual Conference held in Atlanta. The title of her conference paper was “The Lived Experience of Bereaved Parents of Children with Chronic Life-Threatening Illness in Singapore”. Dr. Hannelore Wass Cross Cultural Student Paper Award is presented to an outstanding undergraduate or graduate paper dealing with a topic related to dying, death, loss and bereavement where there is an emphasis or concentration on cross-cultural aspects of the phenomena studied.

Our PhD student, Ms. Oindrila Dutta, and the director of ARCH lab, Dr. Andy Ho.
Ms. Oindrila Dutta’s Presentation

Here is Oindrila’s reflection on the award:

“It was a privilege for me to be able to share the stage with researchers whose works I have read and been inspired by. Both before and after the award ceremony, I had a chance to interact with many of them, and it was an unforgettable experience! More than anything else, it energizes me to do more meaningful and impactful work. I am thankful to the ADEC Awards Committee for this honor. I am also very grateful to have an amazing mentor like Prof Andy and a wonderful team to work with. Their unending support, mentoring and friendship is something I treasure. I hope we, as a team, can continue to showcase the work that we do to our fellow researchers and practitioners in other parts of the world and collaborate with them to bring more quality and sparkle into the lives of the people that we work with.”

IAFOR Scholarship Recipient (2019) – Ms. Stephanie Hilary Ma

IAFOR Scholarship Recipient (2019) – Ms. Stephanie Hilary Ma

Our Master student, Ms. Stephanie Hilary Xinyi Ma, received the IAFOR Scholarship at the 9th Asian Conference on Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences (ACP2019) held in Tokyo from 21st to 23rd March 2019. She presented on ‘A Waitlist-Randomised Control Trial for a Novel intergenerational Art-based Intervention: Project ARTISAN’ and ‘The Arts for Ageing Well: An Ecological Process Model for Sustainable Arts Engagement’.

Here is Hilary’s reflection on the award:

“I am grateful to be a recipient of the IAFOR Scholarship, and this is possible because of the steadfast support and guidance from Prof Andy, the ARCH team and NTU. As this was my first time presenting at a conference, it was an eye opening and rewarding experience to be able to engage in interdisciplinary discussion and knowledge exchange at an international conference.”

SPS40: STUDENT RESEARCH AWARDS 2018 – Ms. Stephanie Hilary Ma

SPS40: STUDENT RESEARCH AWARDS 2018 – Ms. Stephanie Hilary Ma

Ms. Stephanie Hilary Xinyi Ma, our Master student, has been awarded Best Writing, Best Oral Presentation, Best Poster and Overall Best Project in the Masters Category for her research paper and oral presentation, “The Arts for Ageing Well: Arts Engagement and Holistic Wellbeing among Older Singaporeans”. The Student Research Awards, organized annually by the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS), seeks to support young researchers, facilitate dialogue and maintain professional interactions among researchers. Candidates are assessed based on the novelty of research, theoretical and practical significance, robustness of research methods and statistical analyses as well as quality of research writing.

Here is Hilary’s brief reflection on her awards:

“I am very honoured to receive these awards, and immensely grateful for the support and guidance from Prof Andy and my ARCH team mates. I also appreciate the encouraging and constructive feedback from SPS’s supportive panel of judges. It was truly amazing to be able to share the lab’s meaningful research with practitioners, researchers and fellow students, and also an uplifting experience to exchange brilliant ideas and spark future collaborations with other researchers. Moving forward, may we continue to work on the good research that we are doing for the society, and excel as a research community.”

Connecting with seniors through storytelling and art

Connecting with seniors through storytelling and art

by TOUCH Elderly Group

Connecting with seniors through storytelling and art

Caption: TOUCH senior Mdm Tan Siok Cheng, 77, and youth volunteer, Mr Fabian Foo, bonding over a craft session. (Photo Credit: Gabriel Goh, Stellar Photography, for ARCH Lab, Nanyang Technological University)

ARTISAN: Aspiration and Resilience Through Intergenerational Storytelling and Art-based Narratives – A Pilot Study by the Nanyang Technological University

Project ARTISAN – which stands for Aspiration and Resilience Through Intergenerational Storytelling and Art-based Narratives – is an intricately-structured and holistic multimodal intervention framework that builds resilience and creates meaningful connections between youth and seniors by bringing them together in museum and community spaces.

Over five weeks earlier this year, 34 pairs of youth and seniors embarked on a journey of inter-generational storytelling and creative art-making at the National Museum. They learnt about Singapore’s heritage, the relational bonds forged by our pioneers, the resilience they displayed while overcoming adversities, and the realisation of their dreams and aspirations.

The youth-senior pairs were then given the opportunity to reflect and share their personal stories of love, courage and resilience through artistic expressions and creative writing. Their art-based narratives were shared with members of the public during a series of mini community exhibitions held in May and June this year.

“The ultimate goal of Project ARTISAN is to strengthen social connections and relational bonds to combat isolation and loneliness, while promoting wellbeing and resilience for building a stronger and more compassionate Singapore,” stressed Dr Andy Hau Yan Ho, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Principal Investigator of Project ARTISAN.

Bridging the generation gap through art
Mr Teddy Tan Hock Soon, 77, from TOUCH Senior Activity Centre in Yishun, was mesmerised by the exhibits at the National Museum of Singapore on 21 June. Accompanied by a youth participant from NTU, Mr Tan reminisced about his past, sharing eagerly about the significance of these items and how he came to know about them.

“I was so happy to see familiar artefacts from the past displayed at the museum! It brought back memories of my younger days,” said Mr Tan.

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Caption: Mr Teddy Tan Hock Soon with youth volunteer Ms Ariel Pereira, posing with their art pieces

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Caption: Youths with seniors from TOUCH Senior Activity Centre at Yishun proudly displaying their art exhibits

From discovering Singapore’s national heritage to exploring its hope and future, each session began with a guided museum tour, which started conversations between the youth and seniors. They then created their own artwork – together – using a range of art medium, facilitated by a trained artist or art therapist. After the guided art making, they presented their art pieces and shared their stories to the rest of the group.

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Caption: Coming together to learn and connect

Youth participants from NTU, Nanyang Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic provided positive feedback as they recounted good experiences of their time with the seniors.

“My partner was always very willing to help others. During the art making sessions, she often made flowers out of plastic bags to use them to decorate the art pieces we made. However, when one team struggled to complete on time, she offered them a few flowers of her own as a replacement,” said student volunteer Ms Denise Lim Ying.

Despite experiencing some language barrier, students noted how the aunties and uncles made an effort to interact with them. They were touched by their love and sincerity through their small exchanges.

“Once I started to open up, I began learning more about Aunty Mok Ah Mui. She is very wise and has a carefree personality – a trait I hope to model as I am quite the opposite,” said student volunteer Mr Amos Tan.

Exploring life experiences
Through Project ARTISAN, meaningful conversations ensued as both students and seniors exchanged notes on what they saw and remembered about Singapore’s cultural heritage. The students were amazed by the stories of antiques that were no longer in production.

Student volunteer Mr Fabian Foo described a particular art piece that he and his senior partner created called ‘Day and Night’. He explained that the piece illustrates the different lives they live as a youth and a senior.

“I learnt about the value of saving and how to spend my money wisely. I feel that this truly showed the different lives we have lived and the things we, the younger generation, have taken for granted,” said Mr Foo.

Participant Ms Violet Yeo from TOUCH’s Community Enablement Project (CEP) emphasised the importance of such programmes, citing it as a good medium for the elderly to explore their creativity.

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Caption: Ms Violet Yeo (right) participating in a sharing session at an Ang Mo Kio void deck together with residents and youth participants

“A lot of seniors I have met often tell me they feel lonely. This project helps seniors to express themselves. It also gives them something to look forward to as they get the opportunity to interact with others,” said Ms Yeo.

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Caption: TOUCH’s CEP participants with youth volunteers displaying their cityscape model featuring futuristic HDB flats and enhanced infrastructure using vibrant colours and recycled materials

 

A Date with Death

A Date with Death

By Rachel Chiu and Edwin Chan

Reposted from The Nanyang Chronicle .

As part of psychology module The Last Dance, 38 students participated in a funeral simulation on 19 Sep.

Thirty-eight bodies lay side-by-side and motionless on a cold, hard concrete floor, each covered with a white sheet. These rectangles of white were spread out across the foyer of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences building, a picture of calm and stillness.

Passers-by did a double take and stopped to silently observe the peculiar spectacle, while sombre music played in the background and eulogies were read aloud.

Amid the sea of white, boxes of colourful crayons were strewn on the ground and pairs of shoes were placed next to the bodies, waiting to be worn again. This was not a mass funeral in process.

The “dead” were students taking part in a 30-minute funeral simulation held on 19 Sep. Known as “I Died Today x NTU”, the event was a part of The Last Dance, a psychology module under the School of Social Sciences (SSS) that deals with death, dying and bereavement.

The module aims to encourage students to have conversations about death and mortality, which are often heavy, taboo topics in Singapore. Its funeral simulation, which was introduced last semester, aims to provide students with an immersive experience of death.

Breaking the stigma

“We do not talk about death enough due to its stigma in our culture,” said Dr Andy Ho, an assistant professor at SSS’ psychology department.

Dr Ho introduced the module in 2015 because he believed that it would ease students into the difficult topic and help them be more comfortable with discussing death openly.

If people do not think about or discuss death, they are often at a loss and do not know how to cope with their grief when a loved one dies, he said.

The 13-week course gives students a platform to discuss death through lectures, class presentations and experiential learning.

Although the module started three years ago, Dr Ho introduced the funeral simulation only last semester because he finally had a bigger team to assist him in carrying it out.

He introduced the “physical experience” to enhance his students’ understanding of the topic, he said.

“This immersive experience is good for students because normally in the classroom there is no spiritual and physical engagement. The simulation allows them to express what’s on their mind, and hopefully it will translate to a deeper level of learning,” Dr Ho added.

During the funeral simulation, students lay down on long sheets of canvas paper, which represented their graves, while teaching assistants traced outlines of their bodies.

The students were encouraged to imagine the thought process they would have if they knew death was rapidly approaching, and express their thoughts by drawing within the outlines.

Final-year SSS student Oh Jarrad Gjern, 24, took the opportunity to reflect on his life. His drawings were inspired by his loved ones because they were the people he would miss the most if he were to die, he said.

“I drew a group of people, who are close to me, where my heart is located on the canvas sheet. The purple flower at the centre of my drawing represents my girlfriend as she loves both flowers and the colour purple,” he added.

While some students reflected on happy moments in their lives, there were others who focused on sad ones.

Ng Jing Xi, 24, was one of them. When sketching on his canvas, the final-year SSS student thought about regrets and unresolved questions that he would have if he died.

His body outline was divided into three sections: an orange one where he drew flowers, a blue one where he drew a heart, and a red section where he scribbled the word “why” repeatedly.

The bold orange represented the bright side of life and the flowers were achievements he had “planted”. Meanwhile, the heart symbolised the loved ones he was leaving behind and the colour blue illustrated his sadness at having to do so, he said.

“This red part represents frustrations, stemming from many questions like ‘Why am I leaving the world so early?’ and ‘Why did I have so little time to do what I wanted to?’ ” Ng added.

“I want to remove as many ‘whys’ as possible but I’m sure there will always be regrets left behind,” he added.

A cathartic experience

Despite the morbid topic, students like Oh found the experience to be enlightening.

Although the idea of simulating death was slightly uncomfortable, he was excited to participate in the funeral simulation and approached it with an open mind, Oh said.

“During the simulation, I realised that my death would not cause much disturbance to the world. This was comforting as I felt at ease knowing that my death would not burden others,” he added.

Besides the funeral simulation, students discuss issues such as palliative care and government policies related to death during the module’s lectures and class presentations. They also learn how to manage attitudes towards death.

These discussions have helped students such as S. Priyalatha, 23, change their mindset about death.

She is now able to have open discussions about death with her family, while tackling the topic with sensitivity, the final-year SSS student said.

“Conversations about death don’t always have to be sad. When you know what your family members want for their funeral rites and how you are going to be sent off, everyone will have proper closure,” she said.

The class has also helped her come to terms with the deaths of children whom she interacted with when she interned at the Children’s Cancer Foundation.

“It really affected me but this module opened my eyes to the topic of death, and how it happens to young children too. We always celebrate birth, but we often overlook death although it might happen at any time,” she added.

The module also allows students to reflect on their priorities and find their purpose in life, said Dr Ho.

Since death happens to everyone, we should all be prepared to deal with it, he added.

“If we want to drive a car, we can take driving lessons. If we want to fly a plane, we can take flying lessons. But we all die in the end, so why is there no one to help us deal with these emotions?”

I Died Today 2018

Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from last year, IDiedTodayxNTU is back for a second run. This year 38 participants experienced their living funeral at the foyer of the School of Social Sciences on 19th September. Details of our first run can be found here.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Zao Bao Sg for their reporting and coverage.

English Translation by Ms. Choo Ping Ying and Ms. Hilary Ma:

38 NTU students and professor experienced “Death”

To encourage dialogue about death, 38 NTU students, inclusive of third year and fourth year psychology students and a Master student, encountered an experiential activity of a living funeral together with their professor.

Prior to the event, the students prepared their self-eulogies. These eulogies were read to them by facilitators at their living funeral. As a symbol of their passing, the students were then fully covered with a white cloth, where they solemnly reflected on their experience.

A husband feeling heartbroken as his wife read his eulogy

Shaik, a 33-year-old Master’s student in gerontology invited his wife to read his eulogy as he participated in the experiential activity. As he listened to his wife read his eulogy in tears, he felt heartbroken and sorrowful as there was nothing he could do to comfort her in that moment. “I have known my wife for nine years and we are married for two years. She broke into tears as she read my eulogy, drenching my paper coffin with her tears”, he added.

“I’m usually comfortable with death-related conversations, but this activity has strengthened my relationship with my wife. Through this activity, my wife and I have learned that even though we are married, we need to be comfortable with living alone as well. We cannot foresee our death, so we need to cherish our family and the people around us,” expressed Shaik.

Dr. Andy Ho, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, developed and organized this experiential activity for two consecutive years.

He highlighted the necessity to embrace the inevitability of death and understand death as a natural process of life. To address death taboos, he aspires to encourage dialogue and awareness through public education.

“People often perceive discussions about death as taboo and inauspicious. However, embracing death provides us with the opportunity to engage in self-reflection,” emphasized Dr. Andy Ho.

Experiencing peace in the face of death

Wong Su Ting, a 22-year-old psychology student in her fourth year, revealed that her father had passed away two years from an illness at the age of 67. Since then, she was fearful approaching the topic of death, but was able to find peace encountering her own mortality at the living funeral.

“I took a leave of absence to care for my father to spend quality time with him prior to his passing. Back then, I found death horrifying. I was terrified and I felt alone. However, as I face death again at the living funeral, I experienced peace instead and I am not longer afraid of death,” Su Ting recounted.

Su Ting continued, “What can I do to ensure that I find peace in the afterlife? Taking part in this living funeral reminds me that I have goals which I want to achieve and I will work towards those goals henceforth.”

The need to live life with no regrets

Tan Jun Hao, a 25 year-old psychology student in his fourth year, aspires to be a clinical psychologist working with terminally-ill seniors. He realized that he rarely spent time with his family due to school commitment, and had yet to fulfil his aspirations. He shared, “I have yet to realize many dreams and I will have regrets if I were to leave the world now.”

According to Jun Hao, the idea of his own mortality has never crossed his mind. During the immersive process of IDiedTodayxNTU when he was covered with a cloth and heard his eulogy, he began to deeply reflect on significant people and life events.

“The experience was immersive. I wish I can die with dignity and great joy. I included a quote in my artwork, ‘to lead a fulfilled life’. It serves as a reminder to myself that I should live with no regrets,” concluded Jun Hao.

Asst Prof Andy Ho receives prestigious award from ADEC

Asst Prof Andy Ho Receives Prestigious Award from ADEC

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Asst Prof Andy Ho (right) receiving his award at the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling from Dr Romona Fernandez

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Andy Ho from Psychology on his Academic Educator Award from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)! Asst Prof Ho, who was conferred the award at the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, is the first Asian recipient of this prestigious award. It is given to individuals who possess expertise in the field of dying, death and bereavement as demonstrated by advanced academic degrees, professional honors, awards and other major contributions.

Expressing his honour and humility for receiving the award, Asst Prof Ho said that he will continue to push forth the boundaries of Death Education and Thanatology Research. He will also further develop his life’s work in supporting and improving the lives of those facing loss, dying, death and bereavement.

“This award goes to all the patients and families that I have served, as well as to my family, my team, my mentors and teachers who have guided and supported me throughout this most inspiring and rewarding journey,” he added.

Awardees of this award must also have Excellence in Academic Teaching in Thanatology as demonstrated by judgement of peers, development of teaching materials, new courses and student evaluations; Scholarly Abilities as demonstrated by publication records and membership on editorial boards of academic and professional journals; as well as Continuing Growth as demonstrated by keeping abreast of changes and being at the cutting edge of developing ideas for the field.

ARTISAN: Fostering Aspirations and Resilience among Seniors

ARTISAN: Fostering Aspirations and Resilience Through Intergenerational Storytelling and Art-based Narratives

Project ARTISAN brings together seniors and youths on a journey of intergenerational storytelling and creative art-making under the skylights of museum and community spaces. ARTISAN – which stands for Aspiration and Resilience Through Inter-generational Storytelling and Art-based Narratives – comprise a holistic and intricately structured multimodal intervention framework that builds resilience and creates meaningful connections between the two generations. ARTISAN aspires to instill positive and impact changes in participants’ lives, with the ultimate goal of citizen empowerment for overcoming loneliness.

Over five weeks in the early summer of 2018, thirty-four pairs of youth-senior dyads engaged in a series of curated tours at the National Museum, to understand Singapore’s heritage, how people in the past have forged relational bonds, the resilience they displayed while overcoming adversities, and how they realised their dreams and aspirations. The youth-senior dyads were then provided with the opportunity to reflect and share their personal stories of love, courage and resilience through artistic expressions and creative writing. Their art based narratives were shared with members of the public during a series of mini community exhibitions held in May and June 2018, as well as through the ARTISAN Exhibition at the National Museum during the 2018 National Day Open House event on 9 August 2018.

A new grant proposal “ARTISAN: A National Study on Citizen Empowerment to Overcoming Loneliness through Arts and Heritage” has recently been submitted to the 2018 Social Science Research Thematic Grant. This new initiative aims to expand and implement the ARTISAN intervention framework across 6 major museums and galleries across Singapore via a Waitlist Randomized Controlled Trial with 400 seniors and 400 youths, while developing an ARTISAN Facilitator Training and Mentorship Programme to empower 200 health and social care professionals to advance societal-wide implementation of ARTISAN beyond research completion, as well as establishing a digital achieve named “Stories Connect” that house and disseminate the unique personal life stories of ARTISAN participants with educational tools to support local Heritage and Value Education programmes.

Project ARTISAN is a project developed by the Action Research for Community Health (ARCH Lab), Nanyang Technological University of Singapore in collaboration with the National Arts Council and the National Museum of Singapore.”