Thursday, March 25, 2021

Young & Inspired: How Volunteering Drove Her to Find Her Career Passion


Xavierlyn Tan found joy in volunteering in 2016. She would set aside time every week to volunteer for various organisations. Fuelled by a passion to give back to the community, the 23-year-old even took on internships in several Social Service Agencies — all whilst pursuing a Psychology degree at Nanyang Technological University.

At that time, Xavierlyn aspired to be a Clinical Psychologist, but as she spent more time volunteering, she realised she wanted to do something more holistic. As time passed, she found herself gravitating towards a different career path — one towards the Community Care sector.

One Graduate Diploma in Social Work later, Xavierlyn is now an Assistant Care Manager at NTUC Health Cluster Support (Taman Jurong) where she impacts the lives of seniors in the community. She shares her story and motivation to work in the Community Care sector.

You graduated with a degree in Psychology. What inspired you to venture into the Community Care sector?

Since my secondary school days, I’ve always felt a sense of fulfilment whenever I had the opportunity to help others. Beyond that, I realised that I often sought ways to offer any form of assistance to the people around me as well.

In addition, I strongly feel that giving assistance to the vulnerable or to the community should be sustainable, and rapport with beneficiaries should be built over time in order to have a larger impact. As such, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in Community Care so that I could contribute to the community whole-heartedly when I do it full-time, and know that my efforts would have an impact in the long run.

Describe your current role in NTUC Health as an Assistant Care Manager.

As an Assistant Care Manager, I make house visits to my elderly clients’ homes and check on their living or housing arrangements. During these visits, I assess their needs and safety risks and come up with safety and intervention plans to better their quality of life.

Subsequently, I coordinate with different organisations such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), hospitals and other Social Service Agencies to ensure my clients receive the services they require.

What it's like to be an Assistant Care Manager at NTUC Health in Singapore
Making house visits to check in on clients is part of what Xavierlyn does on a regular basis

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first started working?

One thing I found challenging was managing conflict between my client and their family members. Although my primary clients are seniors, family members also play an important role in care arrangements and service plans.

There were occasions where my client and his/her family members have different expectations and desires. In such situations, I would have to speak to them independently and try my best to help both parties come to a compromise.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

That my job only consists of “chatting with seniors”! A lot of administrative work and coordination happen behind the scenes to ensure that clients are adequately cared for and can age in place safely and independently. The “chatting” is how we obtain information to assess the needs of the client.

What was your most memorable client experience?

I have a client who is naturally sharp-tongued and wary of strangers. When I first met her, she was reserved and didn’t share much with me when I asked her questions. However, over time, I gained her trust by connecting with her through her hobbies.

During one particular visit, when I was about to leave, she teared and told me, “不要走。我会想你.” (Don’t go, I will miss you).

Till this day, I still remember this incident vividly as she isn’t someone who is sentimental or shows her emotions easily. I also realised that she would often indirectly get me to stay longer in her home, such as asking me to re-read her letters.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The most fulfilling part of my job would be seeing how my efforts to connect with my clients have paid off. When clients start to be more open to sharing their emotions, and initiate to seek help, I think that’s when I know I’m on the right track and that, to me, is fulfilling!

What it's like to be an Assistant Care Manager at NTUC Health in Singapore
Xavierlyn chatting with one of her clients during a house visit

Who is your biggest source of inspiration, and why?

My biggest source of inspiration is Madam Catherine Chua, a Volunteer Programme Manager at the Institute of Mental Health, whom I’ve known for the past five years. I’m currently leading a volunteer group there hence, I work very closely with her and often hear stories of her experiences.

Madam Chua had been a nurse for decades and despite being in her 70s, she still continues to volunteer at various places. To me, she embodies the spirit of active ageing and is a “lifelong helper”. I aspire to follow in her footsteps when I get older too.

More from this series:

Young & Inspired: Why I Became an Occupational Therapist
Young & Inspired: Why She Gave Up Molecular Biotechnology To Be A Nurse
Videos: Students Ask Community Care Professionals What it's Like to Work in the Sector

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