Nursing home residents help whip up special home-cooked dinner for Chinese New Year

1 week ago 21

SINGAPORE - When offered a chance to cook a Chinese New Year meal for 60 fellow nursing-home residents, former five-star hotel chef Francis Lim and avid cook Tan Lam Huat just could not say no.

The two men - residents at the NTUC Health Nursing Home in Jurong West - got to work right away and crafted a special menu made up of their favourite family recipes like stewed chicken and braised pork trotters.

Apart from the two dishes, about 10 other residents helped to prepare ingredients for steamboat.

On Jan 19, they proudly laid out the festive spread for residents at the home’s annual reunion, which for the first time featured reunion dinner dishes prepared by the residents.

Mr Tan, 74, and one of the few residents at the home who can walk about without help, took a jaunt to the local supermarket. Accompanied by a nurse from the home, he picked up all the ingredients he needed for the festive meal.

Although Mr Tan has tried his hand at cooking dishes like steamed fish, roti prata and salted vegetables, he opted to cook something for the reunion meal that held special meaning for him - braised pork trotters.

He said: “I learnt how to make it from my elder brother. Before he died, he made pork trotters with soy sauce, star anise and garlic. It is easy, and now I can make it myself.”

Mr Lim, 53, who used to be a chef at a Hyatt hotel, offered to make stewed chicken, based on an old family recipe.

However, since he now needs to use a wheelchair and is unable to use his left arm and leg after a stroke in 2020, he gave step-by-step instructions to nurses, who did the cooking.

He said: “Every Chinese New Year, my mother would make Teochew stewed chicken for my brothers and sisters. Getting the chance to cook for people makes me happy.”

Ms Nixi Tay, manager for programme and community partnership at NTUC Health, was part of a team of twenty nurses and administrative staff who organised the reunion dinner.

She said: “Part of NTUC Health’s care philosophy is to enable seniors to be as independent as possible and to exercise choice. One of the ways we have done this is by encouraging residents to cook for themselves and fellow residents.”

NTUC Health, which has six nursing homes in Singapore, began a pilot programme in 2022 to encourage residents to cook their favourite meals at mobile cooking stations if they wished to.

The idea behind buying and preparing the ingredients, an...

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