A Simple Life by Ann Hui


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A simple life – a prominent figure Ah Tao in this film who suffered a stroke – left hemiparesis a weakness on one side of the body with reduced muscular strength (National Stroke Association, 2018) while serving as a maidservant for her master Roger Leung. Together with continuous therapy paired with her tenacity of life she managed to attain recovery quickly. Ah Tao has been with the Leung family for decades and is considered as part of the family. Ah Tao, is a character whom is seen as a remarkable individual with a great sense of putting others before self. This was depicted especially evidently in the scene with her helping people attain their various occupational goals in the Nursing home such as sewing, lending money and even having simple conversations with the lonely older adults living in the home. This is a character trait which compels the audience to sympathise with her suffering and her passing was definitely poignant turn in the mood of the film. This film analysis was done up till the point Ah Tao gets hospitalised again which eventually led to her demise.

PEO Analysis

As shown in Table 1 below a brief analysis using the Person-Environment Occupation (PEO) Model (Law et al. , 1996). Table 1 PEO analysis of Ah Tao Person Role Ah Tao lost her primary job as a maidservant and took on the role as resident in the nursing home. During the later parts of the movie Ah Tao took on the role of being a supportive friend and confidant to her friends in the nursing home. Other social roles that she undertook included being a god-mother to her master Roger and taking care of his daily needs, diet and well-being despite being in the home. She valued deeply for her role as the primary care-giver for Roger and that never really left her.

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Physical Characteristics(e. g. motor, sensory) Motor: Hemiparalysis (Stroke), able to generally move her physical self around except for requiring guidance to do specific tasks that requires two-handed coordination. SensorySight: able to seeHearing: able to hearTouch: able to touchSmell: able to smellTaste: able to taste Affective characteristics Ah Tao demonstrated very strong resilience that could be seen through her active participation in the therapy sessions and her time at the nursing home communicating with the other residents. She didn’t allow herself too long to be to be affected by her situation but instead was steadfast and remained positive despite her initial negative moments in the nursing home. Cognitive characteristics (e. g. perceptual, memory, concentration) Although initially her stroke affected her movements partially, Ah Tao was able to function as per usual fulfilling some of her previous occupational tasks such as cleaning etc. She was able to function positively as it was observed that she was able to remember the names, environment, friends and specific foods that was of interest to her.

Spiritual characteristics (e. g. , values, sense of meaning in life) Ah Tao was a Christian woman that was religious to a certain extent. Though not evidently shown in the film about her religious capacities, it was seen at several points of the film where she’s seen praying before meals. This value of religion / spirituality is understood as a source of personal meaning which is moulded by the situations within an environment which then in return gives meaning to her occupational interests. Ah Tao, was portrayed in the film to be someone with very small & humble goals. Despite being a servant for the household for many years, she was someone that placed her master, Roger, above her own well-being. She ensured the cleanliness and spatial environment of the vicinity was clean and liveable. This was seen very evidently in the moment of her being transferred to a nursing home setting where the first thing she did was to clean her own living space and environment. She found comfort and solace in caring for Roger. Though they weren’t blood related in anyway, she treated him like her own son despite sharing a ‘master – servant’ relationship. We could see her facial expressions light up instantly when Roger meets her at the end of every week and festive occasions where he brings her out. This feeling of care, was also evidently seen when other nursing home clients were jealous of her relationship with Roger.

Environment Cultural

Ah Tao, had some difficulty with living in the home at first due to the big change in environment. Interestingly, the clients at the hospital were all very supportive towards Ah Tao when she first arrived at the home. Soon she made many good friends that she helped financially and emotionally. Being in an environment that enables her to feel less alone and more included definitely enabled her to reach a full recovery much quicker. The PEO fit was initially not a very good fit here, however, as time went by and friendships were made, it was a better fit with Ah Tao enjoying her time there with her new found friends. Physical The home was located along a bustling street with many activities and food amenities around the area. There were various eateries, parks and amenities that could be easily accessible. The environment helped set the notion that there is a world out there despite the walls of a nursing home. Social Through the portrayal in the film, Ah Tao was seen to have made friends rather quickly. There were a myriad of people with various ailments in the home. From people in recovery to those who required full assistance. That itself was a tell-tale sign that there were people that will be able to guide and give support through their own lived experiences.

Additionally, Ah Tao also had very strong emotional and financial support from Roger that enabled her to have an all rounded support system from friends and family. Her friends whom she was very wary of at the start of her time at the nursing home, soon became closer to her. They shared meals and even desserts with one another. Additionally, the medical supervisor that worked in the nursing home was also someone that Ah Tao confided in. This itself kept the protagonist going in her journey of recovery. Occupation ADL Partially dependent IADL Partially dependent Leisure Ah Tao enjoyed cooking and household related activities. Such as cooking mending etc. However, she couldn’t really fulfil this as time was more occupied doing other things in the home. However she spent time with Roger going out with him to various places that definitely brought her joy.


Ah Tao, managed to mingle with friends attend regular therapy sessions and take part in activities organised by the home. Though it wasn’t evidently showcased in the film that Ah Tao fulfilled some of her hobbies actively, her natural positivity around the home after her settling down phase proved that she was productive. Rest During her free time, the main character was found to be engaged in active rest. Listening to radio, observing people while in the occupation of rest. Impact of the disability to Ah Tao’s lifeDue to the stroke, there were several aspects that changed her life that followed her like a shadow till the end of her life-cycle. Serving the Leong’s gave her meaning in life. A majority of her life was spent serving the Leong household and thereafter serving Roger. This sudden shift in focus from being self-independent to suddenly becoming over dependent on someone else definitely caused major life disruption to Ah Tao.

However, Ah Tao was willing to be cared for. She wanted to be admitted to the nursing home and eventually quit her job. All her life was spent caring for someone else, but this time she was yearning for someone to care for her. This mindset definitely enabled Ah Tao to assimilate into the nursing home much quicker than typical clients. If there was one thing that was positive from the stroke was that Ah Tao was now more sociable. Through her time at the home, she became more open to having conversations with people, sharing life experiences and various experiences. This same sharing of life experiences definitely promotes healing for an individual. The viewer was able to notice that Ah Tao was a character that had a high sense of motivation despite the stroke that affected her body. We could see this through her therapy sessions, engagement with other clients in the home and most importantly her relationship with the supervisor in the nursing home. All these positive engagements led to a better quality of life in the nursing home.

The key to a positive transformation in a client with a stroke is the healing relationship which needs to be developed between the care-giver and the client. With this, when approached hand in hand, the opportunity for healing will emerge and in return will achieves maximum healing for the client. (Dirschel, 1998)It was very heartening to see Ah Tao transform from someone who was in an initial state of denial from the stroke to someone who became the person that was highly sought after for reason that enabled people to come together. It was indeed inspiring to see Ah Tao create new occupations that brought meaning to her life and hence allowed the viewer to look beyond the illness. With the higher level of congruence, the quality of occupational performance is increased and vice versa. In a PEO model, as above, a person is regarded as a unique being, who holds specific physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual characteristics (Law & Dunbar, 2007, p. 30) all while assuming various roles to get through the lifespan of life. (Law et al. , 1996; Law & Dunbar, 2007). It can be seen that her stroke didn’t really affect her activities of daily living (ADL) and went on to have daily meals, grooming etc as per normal.

As shown in Figure 2, initially, Ah Tao had some difficulty with assimilating in the nursing home environment. Despite getting a private room unlike the rest of the counterparts, the room wasn’t what she was used to. The previous home in which she stayed at was much bigger and cleaner and there was some privacy. However, in this nursing home it was very communal. Due the fact that there wasn’t any roof from room to room, the noises and moans of the clients could be heard. It didn’t help that Ah Tao who used to be surrounded by ‘Healthier’ people was now surrounded by people with various health ailments in a magnified way that further sped up her feelings of anxiety. The sudden change in environment and the occasional disturbances from her neighbours caused Ah Tao to have difficulties with fitting into the environment. However, despite not being able to fit into the initial phase of the environment, one can argue that there was a relatively decent fit between person-occupation. Despite having hemiparesis, Ah Tao still managed to fulfil her daily needs, goals and still managed to do things of her interest even with one sided body weakness. It is evident in the film that Ah Tao through her psychosocial characteristics which showcased immense grit and determination, was a focal point to her speedy recovery. Her ability to start walking after therapy is definitely attributed to the good fit between person and occupation.

However, as shown in figure 3, as time went by, Ah Tao was able to get used to the environmental situation. This is also due to the factor such as making positive relationships with her new friends at the home and a new found caregiver-patient relationship between Roger and herself. These new found friendships that took some time to forge helped to aid in Ah Tao’s assimilation into the environment building up her social support network. A good social network is also proven to be a healing environment which is vital to the quality of patient care (Woolley et al. , 2012). Thus, as readers one can see that once these layers are unravelled, the connection between person, environment and occupation is a much better fit that before. Additionally, Ah Tao continued to play an integral role in Roger’s life being a constant source of encouragement, companionship and a moral compass. Her role as a caregiver never changed as it was her innate instincts to care for her ‘god-son’ which further highlights her caring qualities as an individual being.


Through close to home encounters which I draw from my very own mom who’s had a stroke previously, subsequent to watching this film, it gave me motivation to make my mom’s each and every breath as ‘tear-free’ as possible. This film, portrayed Roger as a character that was extremely giving regardless of his exceptionally bustling calendar. In spite of having no blood-ties, he took Ah Tao out obliging to her each demand and inclinations. By and by, I think that it’s extremely applaudable to be able to deal with someone that has just been diagnosed with a stroke. At that point in that patients life, their world is upside down. To make their life back in equilibrium again takes many months and years of prudent care and concern. As a future Occupational Therapist, my goal is to bridge this gap between a patient and caregiver. At one point of time both groups of people are going through a whirlwind of emotions.

As an occupational therapist I want to be able to aid the caregiver to better understand what the patient is going through and provide aid resources that will help to bridge the gap between the caregiver and the client. A tear-jerking point when Roger said, “When I had my heart medical procedure she taking care of me accelerated my recuperation, now that she has a stroke, it’s my turn to take care of her”. This line, hit me hard. It made me review the sacrifices my mom has made for me as I was growing up and now it’s my opportunity to take care of her. It is my duty to take care of my client that is mine. It could be someone else’s parent, friend or sibling. For that as a future Occupational Therapist I strive to keep my patient upbeat, till his/her final gasp. Authors note: The author apologises for any misinterpretation in the language due to cultural differences in language.

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