Lian Hua, 56, suffered a spinal cord injury following a road traffic accident in 2011. After undergoing a considerable period of rehabilitation, he could walk slowly for short distances with a walking aid. Lian Hua also had residual sensory impairment and limited function of his affected arm. He was found to be unsuitable for open employment then.

Undeterred, Lian Hua started rehabilitation at Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations (ABLE) in November 2016, where he expressed his interest to return to work. To support his vocational aspirations, ABLE’s therapists and Return to Work (RTW) coordinator liaised closely with the medical team, updating them of Lian Hua’s rehabilitation progress and seeking a review of his employment status. When Lian Hua received medical clearance to pursue open employment in July 2017, the RTW coordinator arranged a work trial at Vegriculture Trading Pte Ltd, a fruits and vegetables wholesaler at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

I started working at Vegriculture in August 2017 and was confirmed in November 2017. I have learned many new things so far while working at Vegriculture. My employer and colleagues are very supportive towards me. I am always open to trying new things at work, and I never say no to
challenging tasks. As the saying goes, “If you never try, you’ll never know.”

The therapists and RTW coordinator supported Lian Hua in navigating his work environment. The therapists identified an appropriate replacement of his powered wheelchair which would be suitable for work and applied to the Assistive Technology Fund for subsidies to offset the cost of his powered wheelchair. The RTW coordinator wrote to HDB and the site manager of Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre to install ramps so that Lian Hua could use the sheltered pathway (previously only accessible by steps) to access eating places and nearby amenities. They also worked closely with the employer to understand the job tasks involved and recommend environmental adaptations, such that Lian Hua could complete his assigned job tasks effectively in spite of his physical limitations.

Lian Hua was officially employed as a production assistant by Vegriculture in August 2017 after his work trial. The RTW coordinator continued to provide regular job support to both Lian Hua and his supervisor. His perseverance paid off in November 2017, when he was confirmed as a permanent employee. He continues to thrive in his job and more importantly, as an economically productive and independent individual engaged in a meaningful occupation.

ABLE seeks to enable and empower persons with physical disabilities to live productive, meaningful and independent lives.

If you are an employer or influence employment opportunities in your organisation, ABLE would be happy to explore employment opportunities for our Return-To-Work clients with you. Learn more about ABLE.

ABLE is a member organisation of Caritas Singapore.

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