Hortherapeutics started as a result of three entrepreneurs who wished to take a different approach to senior care by building a business out of therapeutic gardens for the elderly.
With Singapore being an ageing society, there are many nursing homes and facilities created specifically with the elderly in mind. Hortherapeutics was formed with the aim to promote the design of therapeutic gardens, supported by therapeutic horticulture activities for seniors and other special needs users.
Although the company was set up in just less than a year, the founders have been involved in some therapeutic garden projects in nursing homes and public parks, including Ren Ci Nursing Home, St. Andrew’s Nursing Homes, as well as Tiong Bahru Park and Choa Chu Kang Park.
We sat with Co-founders Jun Xiang, Xin Kai and Jason of Hortherapeutics to find out more about their story and their passion for Therapeutic Gardens!
Q: How did Hortherapeutics come about?
The idea of creating Hortherapeutics began when, in the course of our work, we realised that there is a lack of green spaces in Singapore where the elderly, including those with dementia, and other people with special needs can safely enjoy without constant supervision. We are also concerned about issues with the ageing society, including rising dementia cases in Singapore and we believe more can be done to help alleviate these issues.
Therefore, we set ourselves the goal of creating therapeutic gardens and providing therapeutic horticulture programmes to encourage interactions within the gardens. We believe that user-specific, purpose-built and plant-dominated environments can benefit the physical, psychological, social and mental needs of people.
Q: What has been your greatest achievement thus far for Hortherapeutics?
Although we are a young company, we are fortunate enough to have completed a number of therapeutic gardens for nursing homes in Singapore. To be able to work with the clients and understand the needs of the staff and residents is also very meaningful and fulfilling. We are glad to be able to use our skills and knowledge to benefit the people using the gardens. Also, through our sister company in China, we were invited to join a network of like-minded professionals and researchers who are studying and using the healing properties of plants to improve human health in China. We have been invited to speak at various conferences and industry events in China and to share with them our experience and thoughts on the design of therapeutic gardens.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you had to face during the initial stages and how did you manage to overcome that?
The greatest challenge we are facing currently is the state of awareness among the public on the design of therapeutic gardens. There is still a lot of misinformation about what constitutes a Therapeutic Garden (TG) and Therapeutic Horticulture (TH) and how they are different from general garden design or gardening in general. A lot of times, we found the need to reach out to more people to educate them about TG and TH before we can even convince them about the potential clients to engage us for our services. But we see this as an essential step of our enterprise hence outreach plays an important role currently.
Q: Looking back, would there be anything you would have done differently / better?
Currently, we are in the right direction for the progress of the company. For the company to start especially in the midst of this global pandemic, it is already a good progress as our company’s direction keeps up to date with the current and future situation of the world. The niche of designing therapeutic landscapes and using therapeutic horticulture for the wellbeing of people is still relatively new in Singapore hence we believe as a company we will be able to achieve progress..
Q: What is the future you envision for Hortherapeutics?
Some of our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region such as Australia, Japan and South Korea have established firms that specialise in therapeutic garden designs. They also have strong associations and industry networks advocating the use of plants as part of the healing process. The practice of therapeutic horticulture and therapeutic garden design is quite new in Singapore. It is therefore our goal to be the leading consultancy for evidence-based therapeutic garden design in Singapore. We hope to use Hortherapeutics as a platform for outreach, research, and to provide design and programming services to benefit people in need.
To find out more about Hortherapeutics, please visit their website https://www.hortherapeutics.sg.