With over 30 years in the social work sector, Julia Lee, Senior Director, Department of Social Work, has worked with youths, persons with disabilities, families, healthcare support, and the elderly. While each profession has its own set of challenges, Julia often upholds this principle, “to respect the dignity of each client”. And this translates into the services and programmes that she has had an active hand in running within TOUCH.
Believing that social workers should look at the holistic development of clients, Julia looks beyond the immediate needs of clients, in enabling the mobilisation of resources to improve a client's quality of life.
With the notion that everyone can be someone, Julia works with her clients to empower them to make a positive difference in society. One such initiative is the Seniors Caring for Seniors Project which provides training for elderly clients to be elderly befrienders. These elderly trainees are equipped with communication skills, skills in handling frail elderly, knowledge to perform medical escort for the elderly, and be equipped with observation skills for home visits.
The Seniors Caring for Seniors Project has not only allowed clients to develop a sense of purpose in their golden years and broadened their outlook on life, it has also allowed TOUCH Senior Activity Centre to build a network of care and support for vulnerable seniors living alone.
But it is not all a bed of roses. Julia has experienced her fair share of ups and downs in a profession which is often known as a crucial line of help to identify gaps on the ground, assess needs and work with different stakeholders to address issues. “As a social worker, it’s easy to get burnt out when you are constantly giving and helping others. Don’t be too hard on yourself and always remember the reason why you started – it will help you get through moments when you wish to give up” shares Julia.
As a veteran social worker, Julia now looks into raising the professional competencies of social workers in TOUCH so that more can enhance the overall well-being and meet the increasingly complex needs of communities and people. She is also in charge of a pool of Professional Deputies & Donees registered with the Office of Public Guardian, to provide holistic care to individuals who may not have a loved one to act on their behalf in areas of personal welfare, and property and affairs.
Another advice that she shared is the importance of staying healthy. “You cannot help others if you do not first help yourself. If you keep giving, you will eventually run on empty.”