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My Learning Diaries: As the youngest supervisor at a senior daycare centre, picking up new skills is a must

My career in the eldercare sector began in February 2018, when I volunteered with the Silver Generation Office (SGO), the outreach arm of the Agency for Integrated Care. 

The author is a centre supervisor at All Saints Home.

The author is a centre supervisor at All Saints Home.

The fast-changing nature of work has prompted many Singaporeans to upgrade their skills to stay relevant. TODAY’s Voices section is publishing first-hand accounts of young Singaporeans who have recently done so to give their careers a boost, or even pursue new paths in life.

In this instalment, Ms Chang Xue Qi, 28, describes the challenges of being the youngest supervisor at a senior daycare centre — especially when dealing with staff. On top of picking up people management skills on the job, Ms Chang is also pursuing a master’s degree in applied gerontology to better serve her elderly clients.


My career in the eldercare sector began in February 2018, when I volunteered with the Silver Generation Office (SGO), the outreach arm of the Agency for Integrated Care. 

My grandmother sparked my interest in caring for the elderly. She was an instrumental figure in my growing-up years, having left her job as a factory worker to look after me when I was born. Through her, I learnt values such as empathy and compassion.

I graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2018, with an honours degree in political science. Inspired by my grandmother, my honours thesis was about improving the effectiveness of policy communications to the elderly.

I joined SGO full-time in July 2018. There, I actively reached out to seniors and their caregivers to assist them with various government schemes and policies.

That sparked my interest to learn more about ageing issues, so I took up a part-time specialist diploma in gerontology at Temasek Polytechnic in October 2020.

It was difficult juggling work and study commitments. Blessed with supportive family members, lecturers, classmates and colleagues, I managed to graduate in May 2022 and was the valedictorian for my cohort. It is one of the proudest moments in my working life.

Before graduating, I was offered the opportunity to manage the All Saints Home in Yishun, which is a nursing home that also provides day care and other services for seniors, but I was unsure if I could be a good supervisor.

However, my current boss encouraged me to try interviewing for the job. To my delight, I was accepted and started work in March 2022.

I was, and still am, the youngest supervisor in my organisation.

Managing a daycare centre is an uphill task. I could communicate well with seniors, but it is a different ball game with staff. I had to learn people management and communication skills on the job.

For example, when I receive complaints about staff behaviour, I need to tactfully speak to those concerned about it. Many of them are senior staff who are much older than me.

I often spend time thinking about the right words and body language to convey my message, so that I can strike a balance between correcting misbehaviour and keeping staff motivated.

All this happened as I was starting my part-time master’s degree in applied gerontology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in August 2022.

I felt that this programme was a natural progression from my diploma, as it could equip me with skills and knowledge to better serve the elderly. If all goes well, I should graduate in July 2024.

My family is my pillar of support; they unconditionally allowed me to pursue my aspirations and even offered to fund my studies. They did not have to do so, as I later secured a full tuition scholarship from Ngee Ann Kongsi, which I’m deeply grateful for.

Juggling my new job and the master’s is definitely challenging. I have to sacrifice my weekends to study. On weekday nights after work, I rush to NTU for my classes — a nerve-racking journey due to traffic.

Nevertheless, I enjoy my classes. My favourite module so far is leadership and management in aged care, where I learnt about strategic management and various personality types. I now understand why people behave in certain ways, and how I can fine-tune my communications with them.

It is both rewarding and challenging managing a team of 14 staff, with vastly different ages and backgrounds.

Working in an elderly-dominated environment has also trained me to be mature and tactful in handling difficult situations.

Being a supervisor, I’ve learnt to be less task-oriented, and instead focus on engaging staff and caring about their well-being. This was a paradigm shift from my previous SGO job, but surely and slowly, I am learning to empathise with my staff more.

My boss once said he wanted to pay it forward by mentoring me, because he benefited from his own experience. I aspire to do the same too.

My advice to people embarking on a similar journey?

There is no fixed age to being a leader or supervisor. With the right mentorship and a positive learning attitude, you can make it. 


Ms Chang Xue Qi, 28, is a centre supervisor at All Saints Home. She is pursuing her master’s degree in applied gerontology at Nanyang Technological University. The only child of her family, she lives with her grandmother, who first sparked her interest to serve the elderly. She speaks fluent Cantonese. 


If you have an experience to share or know someone who wishes to contribute to this series, write to voices [at] with your full name, address and phone number.

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