This story was first published on NTUC Health's Personality Spotlight in Sep 2022.
As far as she can remember, Audrina Tan has always been around her grandmother growing up. Now at 22, and seeing her grandmother age through the years, she has become more sensitive to the challenges faced by the elderly.
Audrina’s active passion for seniors and mental health saw her featured on Zaobao for her work as Project Director of the volunteering committee at the National University Hospital. “I was also the sole volunteer at the Psychiatric Ward at that time. It was difficult to get volunteers for that ward as there was a common stigma against people with mental illness.” Audrina shared.
While looking for internship opportunities for her attachment as a Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) scholar, Audrina spotted an opening with our Corporate Communications and Branding department. Being an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore majoring in Psychology and minoring in film studies, comms and branding was somewhat foreign to her. However, due to her soft spot for seniors and a belief that on-the-ground work with them would be valuable to her practice as an aspiring psychologist, Audrina saw this as an opportunity to learn more about NTUC Health and the community we serve.
One of her first projects with us was supporting our Healthy Ageing and Early Detection event held at our Day Centre for Seniors (Serangoon Central) on May 28, Audrina had to manage a hotline and spoke to many seniors who called to ask about the event. As someone who is empathetic, she even listened to them speak about the challenges they faced, such as issues with their health, or having language barriers with the younger generation who could not speak Mandarin or dialects.
“These conversations are very valuable because although we can learn the theory in psychology classes, direct interaction can give much more insight to us as aspiring clinical psychologists.” Audrina shared. “We should always provide solutions that are needed by the seniors, and not what we presume to be best. ”
Audrina’s bubbly and energetic personality, combined with her linguistic skills (pssst, she is also a Chinese tutor during the weekends) and psychology background, certainly helps people to open up to her. At the Healthy Ageing and Early Detection event, she made such an impression on our partners that she was invited to intern with them in the future! Seniors who spoke on the phone with her previously were also glad to see her in person.
Audrina’s drive toward better communication with seniors doesn’t stop there. At home, she picks up Hokkien from her grandmother by listening to her conversations with friends on the phone. “My grandma still laughs at my Hokkien, but I hope that by learning to speak the dialect, I will be able to understand seniors better!”
The reason for this stems from Audrina’s desire to educate the older generation on mental health. “There is a deep stigma that the elderly have regarding mental illness. The first step towards educating them is being able to speak in a language they can understand.”
This desire to facilitate a meaningful conversation with seniors also led Audrina to develop one of her own initiatives within the Corporate Communications and Branding department, a Mandarin guide of all the names of our services, as well as commonly used terms for staff. At the same time, she added Hanyu Pinyin for each word so as to aid people who didn’t recognise the Chinese characters. “With this guide, our staff will be able to better converse with seniors who speak only Mandarin and help them understand what our services are.”
Realising that there was little content on mental health on our website, Audrina also put her expertise to good use by proposing a mental health content pillar, which consisted of a mental health article for our NTUC Health blog, as well as a series of infographics.
The three months Audrina had with NTUC Health gave her insight into the wide range of eldercare services that exist in our community. Her work coordinating with the various internal departments as an intern with the Corp Comms and Branding department, also gave her a wider perspective on how each of the services come together to serve our seniors better. “This experience with NTUC Health has certainly given me a deeper understanding on the eldercare industry of Singapore. I am a firm believer in having a hand-on approach. With the interactions I had with the eldercare staff and seniors, I feel like I am better able to position myself as an aspiring clinical psychologist.” shared Audrina.
Audrina was also thrilled to be able to find out more about our work with seniors on mental health, through a long chat with our psychologist, Ms Hia Soo Boon. As a healthcare professional who is very much on the ground and interacting with clients daily, Soo Boon was able to share valuable insights, which greatly inspired Audrina. “I felt we were very much on the same page in terms of our passion for mental health care for seniors!”
Audrina is excited to have found an organisation whose values align so closely with her own.
With about a year left to graduate, Audrina has expressed interest in joining NTUC Health, and contributing her expertise to our ranks. Meanwhile, she continues to learn Hokkien secretly, and hopes to surprise her grandma one day with fluent Hokkien.