Ensuring timely intervention by medical social workers at Changi General Hospital

Medical social workers (“MSWs”) at Changi General Hospital (CGH) work at the front-lines and see foreign domestic workers who come in for check-ups, or are admitted for treatment. From time to time, a domestic worker may confide in the MSWs, and stories of abuse or non-payment of wages finally come to light beyond the confines of their place of employment.

Social workers are thus well positioned to quickly connect the domestic workers to migrant worker organizations, before they go home.  

JWB recently conducted a sharing session with the medical social workers at CGH to discuss the types of legal claims that domestic workers commonly bring, as well as how early evidence collection can help to strengthen a client’s case against her employer (see here for our guide to evidence collection). 

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Our Singapore Pro Bono Officer, Ms. Tammie Koh, emphasized the need to collect clients’ home contact information at the outset, as it is usually unclear when a domestic worker may return home after she completes her treatment at the hospital.

When we conduct sharing sessions such as this, JWB often learns of domestic workers with potentially strong claims. But if the social worker does not have her contact information, the chance of further assistance post-return is almost zero. 

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The sharing session continued with questions from the social workers and ended on a high note when Ms. Tammie Koh was asked for JWB success stories to inspire the CGH staff. The story of Rita*, a client with claims against a bankrupt employer, was shared.

This session with the medical social workers of CGH was highly engaging and fruitful, and we are thankful to the Department of Medical Social Services at CGH for inviting us to speak at this session. 

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*The client’s real name has been changed to protect her identity.