When senior nurse manager Sinnatamby Savithri realised that some of her patients in the dementia ward at Changi General Hospital (CGH) were showing signs of agitation and depression, she decided to do something about it.
The 61-year-old introduced robotic pet therapy, which uses a life-like robotic cat or dog to calm and stabilise patients' moods.
"I saw this programme being used in the United States and read success stories in improving patients' behaviour and mood so I wanted to try it here," said Madam Savithri, who has 40 years of nursing experience. She found the programme to be successful, especially for those who own pets.
Said Madam Savithri: "These patients miss their pets at home, so when they interact with the robotic cat or dog, it makes them very happy and they feel drawn to it. It puts a smile on their faces."
She felt a sense of achievement from seeing patients reacting well to the programme and was encouraged to implement more of such initiatives to help patients.
She also introduced the Snoezelen Sensory Board, a form of multi-sensory stimulation therapy that helps to reduce patients' behavioural issues.
On Tuesday, Madam Savithri was one of nine healthcare professionals presented with the Superstar Award - the highest accolade among the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards - in the Nursing Category.
The award honours outstanding healthcare professionals who have demonstrated remarkable commitment in delivering quality care.
"There are rapid changes in technology and the role of nurses is increasingly becoming challenging. It is important for us to embrace these changes and have a positive outlook towards life-long learning," said Madam Savithri, who was also instrumental in setting up the first dementia ward at CGH in 2015 .
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, guest of honour at the ceremony held in the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore, presented 4,295 Silver, Gold and Star Awards to healthcare professionals from 43 public and private healthcare institutions and agencies.
The nine Superstar Awards were presented to the top winners in the Clinician, Nursing, Allied Health, Administration, Ancillary and Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC) categories. In addition, Best Team awards were presented in recognition of exemplary efforts that improved patient experience and clinical practice.
Mr Heng noted that leveraging technology is key to keeping Singapore's healthcare system sustainable, as it can free up time for healthcare professionals to focus on patient care.
"But no matter how advanced our medical technology, "genuine care for patients will always remain a critical part of our healthcare system", he added.
Taking home the Superstar Award - ILTC Allied Health was Madam Bridget Monica Das, head of Department of Social Work & Counselling at Ren Ci Hospital.
The 45-year-old said she realised that many elderly residents at the nursing home were filled with feelings of hopelessness and "waiting for death to come".
It spurred her on to develop a programme called the Older Adults Supporting in Sharing (Oasis) with her team of social workers in 2011.
It uses reminiscence therapy, reconciliatory techniques and a reintegration approach to help residents adapt to living in a long-term residential facility and come to terms with their illness.
Speaking on Oasis' impact on residents, Madam Bridget said: "One of them found purpose in life and started penning poems. Another has become a champion for stroke patients and gives talks to students who are on attachment in the hospital.
"It's an honour and I feel grateful to receive this award. The job has humbled me as a person and given me the opportunity to maximise the potential of residents and steer their lives in a direction that will be meaningful and positive for them."