Describe your job setting.
I am a Speech and Language Therapist working at ABLE Rehabilitation Centre! Our centre provides a full suite of rehabilitation services including Physiotherapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Speech Therapy (ST). We provide services targeting physical, cognitive and/or communication disabilities and support them through their vocational journey. The bulk of my caseload comprises of young stroke and TBI survivors who have aphasia, apraxia or cognitive-communication deficits. Additionally, many of our clients are keen to return to work.
Currently, we provide one-on-one outpatient intervention services in the community but social communication and aphasia group therapy are in the pipeline. The ABLE Rehabilitation multi-disciplinary team comprises PTs, OTs, an ST, a Social Worker, an Employment Support Specialist and a Training Support Coordinator to provide all clients with the support they need to successfully re-integrate into the community or return to gainful employment.
ABLE (short for “Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations”) is a non-profit organisation and a member of Caritas, which is the official social and community arm of the Catholic Church in Singapore. ABLE is located in the Agape Village at Toa Payoh Lorong 8. Apart from the Rehabilitation Centre, ABLE has a Respite Centre that serves the caregivers and family members of all our rehabilitation clients. Caregivers are free to use the facilities or participate in group activities while their loved ones are having therapy sessions.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part about working at ABLE is that I am able to fully support clients with communication disorders in their journey to re-integrate into the community. My therapy sessions are not confined to impairment-based tasks. Together with the rest of the team, we explore opportunities for clients to participate in social events or take part in work trials. I enjoy working with this population of clients and most of them are highly motivated.
I have no complaints. I enjoy every aspect of my work!
What misconceptions do people have about your job?
I think the biggest misconception is that Speech Therapists only help people to speak. We do so much more! I make a conscious effort to counsel clients and caregivers who are unfamiliar with our profession. I also enjoy sharing with people I meet during my daily travels, like Grab drivers, about the work we do whenever the opportunity arises.
What are some of the interesting issues that you have encountered?
Coming from an acute hospital background, it’s been eye-opening to make that transition into the community. I have had the opportunity to work with several clients who continue Speech Therapy despite having functional communication. In the community, I collaborate with clients and set higher functioning and longer term goals that aid with community and vocational integration such as public speaking, exploring leisure activities and increasing communication opportunities to name a few.
What made you get into this job?
I wanted a career that allowed me to work closely with people and help them. It was not an easy decision to make a mid-career switch. However, I was inspired to enrol in the Speech Pathology Master’s Program at NUS after observing Speech Therapists in action at my previous job at an Educational Therapy Centre. This field has so much to offer in terms of breadth and depth of knowledge and services. I know that I will never be bored!
What are the main skills you need in your job setting?
Apart from having the necessary clinical skills, I think it is important to enjoy working with this population of clients with communication and cognitive-communication impairment. As clichéd as it sounds, it’s also important to have the heart to serve. Many a times, our clients in the community require more than just impairment-based interventions. They are also seeking support in their journey to return to work and forge meaningful relationships. Apart from being a Speech Therapist, I often find myself wearing other related hats such as patient advocate, return-to-work coordinator etc.
Tell us a little about the benefits that come with the job?
The accessibility to good food – the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Food Center is seriously awesome!
Just for fun:
First in the office or last to leave? Neither. At ABLE, there is no overtime culture! 8.30am – 5.30pm daily.
Tea or coffee? Good coffee over tea. No instant coffee mix please.
Eat out or packed lunch? Eat out. It’s hard to resist the hearty hawker fare at the nearby market!
The lift or stairs? Stairs! There are only 4 storeys at the Agape Village anyway. Haha.