Here’s What It’s Really Like Working as a Social Worker in S’pore

You know how we always had childhood ambitions but never really got to fulfil them till we are older?

Since young, I’ve always wanted to be a social worker. I participated in countless of CIP projects and CCAs in my secondary school and college days because it always gives me immense joy to make people happy. And of course, to peek into the lives of people whom we seldom get to see.

Shadowing two social workers for a day 

I was stoked when I found out that I was given a chance to shadow the life of an NTUC Health Social Worker for a day, and to find out what really lies behind the nature of their job. 

During the job shadowing, I followed Yu Qi, a Care Manager, and R’Diana, a Care Executive to visit Mr Low, a client under NTUC Health who stays with his brother in a 2-room HDB flat. Mr Low is a cancer patient who is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

He’s afraid of leaving his home 

As a result of the chemotherapy, Mr Low’s legs are still rather feeble from the treatment and he requires the help of a wheelchair to move around. He also has a ramp specially installed outside his home to facilitate his movement in and out of the house. 

Mr Low also has a phobia of leaving his house ever since he experienced a bad fall while being carried into an ambulance. Therefore, Yu Qi and R’Diana always have to put in extra effort to encourage Mr Low to take a breather outside of his house.

So far, they’ve only managed to bring him out once.

Yu Qi and R’Diana visit Mr Low on a weekly basis to check for his personal needs like his meals, whether there are any problems living in the house and to make sure that he attends his scheduled appointments at the hospital.

Mr Low is currently on a Meals-On-Wheels service – where lunch and dinner are delivered to his home every day. He also has a designated housekeeper who visits his house and does simple home keeping. 

Yu Qi and R’Diana listening attentively as Mr Low voiced his concerns.

The lack of wheelchair amenities near his home

Today, we managed to take Mr Low out in the wheelchair and realised that the neighbourhood was not very wheelchair friendly. The pavements near his house are very narrow so it hinders his mobility and affects his confidence to travel out of his house.

Bed bugs affecting their daily activities  

Other than mobility issues, Mr Low also faces the problem of bed bugs at home. Thus, his brother has irregular sleep hours and can only fall asleep at 6am in the morning because the bed bugs are inactive during those hours.

Social worker pointing out signs of bed bugs infestation.

Since Yu Qi and R’Diana visit Mr Low regularly, they would also have to take precautions such as not putting their belongings on the floor or leaning against the wall to make sure that they do not transfer the bed bugs to other clients when they visit them at their homes.

In order to eliminate bed bugs, Yu Qi and R’Diana also have to liaise with Mr Low’s brother, who made arrangements for the bed bugs to be cleared. They also ensure that Mr Low would receive new furniture after the wipeout, and facilitated the subsidy process.

After the house visit, I got to interview Yu Qi and R’Diana, to find out more about their job scope and some of the challenges that they face when dealing with clients.

You really need people skills

For both Yu Qi and R’Diana, one of the biggest challenges that they face with clients was convincing them to do what’s best for themselves.

For example, if a client has bedbug infestation at home, the wise course of action would be to throw away the affected furniture since it’s quite hard to get rid of the stubborn bugs. However, some clients may be emotionally attached to their home furniture and refuse to throw them away. 

It’s the job of the social workers to come to a compromise and persuade the clients to do what’s best for them. 

Unsung heroes helping those in need

After speaking to Yu Qi and R’Diana, it is really heartening to know that there are people who still care for the elderly.

These unsung heroes take on the role of a caregiver, as well as a friend to these elderly. They will make sure that the elderly are always taken care of, and that they are not alone whenever they need someone to talk to. 

Some of the social workers even take time off to visit Members of Parliaments (MP) to voice their concerns. For Mr Low’s case, the social workers approached the MP to highlight the need to make the area more wheelchair friendly.

So for those who think that being a social worker is only about chatting with elderly, you are wrong. There’s a lot more to that than we know. 

To find out more about NTUC Health and explore careers in health and eldercare within this social enterprise, visit

Read Also:

Here’s What It’s Like to be a Fitness Trainer for Seniors & Why It’s Harder Than it Looks 
NTUC’s New Unit Could Address Tomorrow’s Unemployment 
10 Things You Might Not Know About NTUC 

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Cassandra Tan

Cassandra Tan

Cassandra is a professional glutton and a lifestyle blogger who is always chasing the latest food trends in town. She documents her gastronomical adventures on her blog ( and on her Instagram page (@cforcassan)
Cassandra Tan