Thursday, February 20, 2020

SANH(Buangkok)’s New Executive Director Has A Vision - To Brighten Residents’ Lives


Cynthia Wong, the new Executive Director of St. Andrew’s Nursing Home (Buangkok), builds on her past leadership roles in real estate and volunteer roles in the social service sector to be able to look at issues strategically and yet be hands-on.

She joined SANH in June 2019, and shares with mosAIC her “blueprints” for leading the dedicated team to brighten the lives of its residents through love, compassion, and care.

1.     What was your previous work experience before you joined St Andrew’s Nursing Home (Buangkok)?

I was from the competitive real estate industry, and held leadership roles in public-listed companies, covering Asia. It gave me many opportunities to hone my skills in strategic planning and execution, corporate governance, risk management and talent management.

Since 2011, I have served at both board and operation levels in various social service organisations, mainly in the special needs and palliative care segments. These roles provided me with excellent insights into the challenges faced by the social service and healthcare sectors, as well as the ongoing efforts by community partners to tackle these challenges.

My volunteering experience also showed me that passion alone in the social service or healthcare sector is only half the answer. It takes vision and perseverance to see plans come to fruition.

2.     How has your experience in your previous roles prepared you for your current role?

Healthcare is a complex sector. Thankfully, my prior experience in senior management, undertaking joint ventures and dealing with multiple stakeholders has helped me prepare for this. I am able to consider all issues holistically, especially when making difficult decisions.

The healthcare sector is highly regulated, and being familiar with corporate governance required of public-listed companies has enabled me to always ensure the team is at the forefront of quality and compliance.

My past experience in facilities management during the SARS period gave me valuable insights that are very applicable now to the current Covid-19 situation.

From my volunteering experience, I have connected with people from all walks of life, which helped me gain different perspectives. These interactions are also why I now choose to focus on drawing on strengths rather than focusing on the negatives. Thankfully, I have a very supportive team.

I have always admired those who work in the healthcare sector. I consider it a calling to be able to serve in this sector.

3.     What are some of the new plans you have for St. Andrew’s Nursing Home (Buangkok)?

The Home has been serving 300 psychiatric residents in their rehabilitation journey for the past six years. Through residential medical care and programmes that cater to their psycho-social needs, these residents have been well-cared for. Our programmes are varied, ranging from interaction activities with befrienders to interesting physiotherapy and occupational therapy activities such as cooking sessions for people with dementia, Zumba, group therapy, and counselling sessions to improve the mental wellness of our residents. This year we have also embarked on a fully structured programme where we bring our residents to different levels of work ability and educate them on life skills.

Moving forward, my vision is for our dedicated staff to continue to be the light that brightens the lives of our residents through love, compassion, and care, upholding the values of our parent organisation, St. Andrew’s Mission Hospital.

My focus for St. Andrew’s Nursing Home (Buangkok) is a three-prong approach:

a)    Staff- We will continue to equip, encourage and empower them to serve our residents better, and to nurture their career growth with us. We are preparing to launch a programme to develop staff with high potential. We will continue to maintain a family-like environment so that staff will be happy working in SANH(B).

b)    Residents- We are exploring options to integrate them back into society. We have stepped up our programme to up-skill our residents to prepare them for external employment or internal deployment. We will also be embarking on our key initiative this year - to enhance relationship-building between our residents and their loved ones. Family and community support are key to the residents’ reintegration back into society and their community. We will also be creating a myriad of opportunities where our residents can interact with the community in the long run.

c)    Partners- After witnessing the success of a community involvement project at the recent AIC-led Integrated Care for Leaders Programme 2020, I am motivated to step up our collaboration with community partners to make integrating our residents into the community a sustainable effort.

4.     Tell us something about St Andrew’s Nursing Home (Buangkok) that not many people know about?

Our residents are resilient in their rehabilitation journey. Despite the setbacks of their diagnosis, some have managed to take on external employment in F&B outlets and many are engaged in the Home in roles such as portering, packing, washing cups, and gardening.

5.     Can you share with us about a leisure activity that you enjoy?

I’m an avid nature lover. Since a few years ago, I have taken to walking at least 21 km per week at nature parks. With all the natural beauty around me, I’ve also taken up spot photography - shooting plants and flowers. I have been an NParks volunteer (on an ad hoc basis) for the past few years.

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