Our past experiences shape us into the person we are today, and Low Mun Heng, the new Director for Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, is testament to that.
The 52-year-old, who joined the organisation six months ago, shares that his 26-year experience as a social worker has influenced his approach to leadership.
“My approach to staff and service has been person-centered, focusing on the individual’s strength, and treating everyone with respect and dignity,” he says.
He adds, “My experience as a frontline social worker has also influenced the way I look at change. Change is happening all the time, be it in organisations or on an individual level. However, it is important for me to set the conditions to influence the direction of the changes.”
Read on to find out more about Mun Heng and what keeps him going through tough times.
What were some things that are at the top of your to-do list for Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services? How are they coming along?
I joined Sheng Hong just six months ago. Someone asked me whether I am going to expand Sheng Hong's services. My answer is simple: The top priority is to strengthen corporate office so that it can support the operation of the whole society.
The individual departments should focus on their core duties, including finding ways to deliver quality service to the client. To me, it is not about just quantity, but more importantly, the quality of service to our clients. It is important for us to review the current programmes to see if we are meeting the needs of our clients.
Another related area would be the competency of staff. One of my top priorities is to ensure that all staff are constantly upgrading their competency to provide quality care to our clients. For me, competency is not just about skills and knowledge — it is also about the attitudes and values that influence the service delivery. So I am working towards getting all the staff to embrace the organisation values of compassion, empathy, integrity and strategy. We will only expand our services when the time is right.
What is one thing that has surprised you most since you joined Sheng Hong?
One thing that surprised me when I joined Sheng Hong is the dedication of the staff towards the clients, and our commitment to provide the best care to the clients. Sheng Hong invested resources to build the Sheng Hong Active Ageing Hub @ Sennett and I am surprised that they have the best equipment. We need to see how we can continue to provide safe, quality service to our clients amidst of the pandemic. The guiding principles come from the values of Sheng Hong, which is to empathise with our clients from the depth of our hearts, service our clients with compassion, speak with them with integrity, and carry out our work to the best of our abilities.
What is your favourite aspect of Community Care that has contributed to your decision to stay on in this sector?
I worked in an inpatient setting for a long time before I joined the Community Care sector. The Community Care sector attracts me to stay on because it allows us to really touch the lives of our clients where they are living, especially when we work with the seniors in the community. It is the natural environment where the clients live, and experience fun, sorrow, isolation, support, and other aspects of life in the community. We find out about their predicaments during home visits and provide appropriate care for the clients.
At the same time, there are many opportunities to develop programmes and services for the clients to meets their needs. Through ethnographic methods, we gather information and using this information, we shape our services.
Could you share something interesting that most of your colleagues don’t know about you?
Some of my colleagues know, but I think most don’t know that I have an interest in baking. I love to explore different types of bakes when I have time, and I would even come up with my own recipes. Baking has also influenced the way I think about my professional work. Once we have good foundational knowledge and skills in the area, we are able to develop new recipes of services. Using good foundational principles and creativities help in developing new strategies and programmes to meet the emerging challenges and needs.
What keeps you going when the going gets tough?
Yes, things are not always smooth sailing. I believe most of the time, it is about having a goal in mind. I am always asked why I am in this line. I guess it's because I have the belief that everyone has the potential to change for better. A good or bad situation will eventually pass. This keeps me focused on what I am doing.