F&B veteran makes career switch to eldercare

Mr Philip Lim, on a medical mission in the mountainous region along the borders of Northern Thailand and Myanmar.

Turning down a senior leadership position with Crystal Jade, Mr Philip Lim, 52, chose to follow his heart and pursue a career in eldercare with us as a Centre Manager at our Senior Day Care (Boon Lay) in April this year.

After a 15-year stint in the military, the then 31-year-old Philip sought to embark on a new career path while he was still young. Attracted by the glamourous side of the food & beverage (F&B) industry with offerings of travel, entertainment and of course, good food, he began his new path as a General Manager at KFC and Pizza Hut in Moscow, Russia. Philip’s career would continue to flourish, as he took on senior leadership and top group management roles, such as Chief Operating Officer for Carl’s Junior in Singapore and Malaysia, Group General Manager for Swensen’s for Singapore, Malaysia and China, and Regional Director of Pacific Coffee Company.

In 2008 at the peak of his career, Philip acquired a rare disease which affected his heart valve, and had to have a major open heart surgery. “The experience really mellowed my personality and changed my perspective on life, leading me to spend time engaging in community service,” Philip shared. Volunteering at St. Andrew’s Community Hospital Medical Services to the Community, he visited foreign worker dormitories and one-room flats, and was particularly affected by the lonely and frail elderly.

Philip leading a local monthly medical mission, serving the foreign migrant worker community. His team also visited one room rental flats in the Ghim Moh, Chinatown and Bukit Ho Swee area to serve the vulnerable seniors.

Philip was also becoming tired of not having time for himself. In 2017, as the General Manager and Head of Operations with Yakun, life had become extremely hectic and he found himself sacrificing family time for work. His daughter was entering primary school, and he had no time for her. The competitive and profit-driven nature of the F&B industry also left him wanting more.

Around the same time, Philip had the opportunity to help with the Salvation Army in drawing up plans for their nursing home at Peacehaven in Changi. Working with staff from the eldercare sector, he learned a lot about how dementia affected the elderly in Singapore, and felt that he had much to offer to the eldercare sector.

A position with Lions Befriender Service Association Singapore surfaced in 2018, and Philip took the plunge to enter a different phase of his career. As an Assistant Director for the western region of Singapore, he oversaw the cluster support outreach services, senior activity centres, home personal care and senior group homes.

In 2019, in order to gain more knowledge and training in the eldercare sector, Philip took up a Post Graduate Specialist Diploma in Gerontology (Mental Health). After he left his position in September 2019, Philip enrolled in several WSQ courses enrich himself, and has also embarked on a professional certificate in Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Care Management.

Philip recalled an experience in his previous role, where he received an urgent phone call at 2am from Senior Minister of State Ms Sim Ann, who was one of the grassroots leaders of the region he was overseeing. An elderly lady was seen scavenging for leftovers at a hawker centre in the middle of the night. He rushed down with his team and managed to connect with the lady, and followed up the next day to learn more about her situation. She was living with dementia, and was abused by her son who did not provide for her. Philip worked with a team of medical social workers and gerontologists to have the lady removed from her abusive family and placed in a nursing home to receive care that she needed. “Although she has since passed on, I am glad to have been able to reach out to her and ensure that she was well taken care off in the last moments of her life.”

Brimming with passion to serve the community, Philip also got himself certified as a Senior Befriender Life Coach with Singapore Prison Service, working to bring positive changes to the inmates, and integrate them back into society after their release. He is also a Missions Lay Coordinator and Deputy Head of Missions with St. Andrew’s Community Hospital, coordinating doctors and their mobile medical services during their outreach programmes to the under-served population of Singapore, as well as the migrant and foreign workers. A few times a year, Philip also brings a team of doctors and medical workers on medical missions to provide medical services and community work to rural areas overseas.

Philip (right) being recognised for his efforts by Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of health, Mr Amrin Amin, as he represented Prisons Befriender mentors at the Home Team Festival in 2019. Listen to a Mandarin interview Philip did with 96.3 好 FM about his role here: https://omny.fm/shows/hao-fm-963/2-2702

Philip in his corporate tee while working from home.

Joining in the middle of COVID-19, Philip has only visited the centre once, and has since been working from home. He actively engages his team, along with Assistant Centre Manager Ms Ng Yoke Cheng who serves as his mentor, and also reaches out to the centre’s seniors and their caregivers through calls to check in on them. Additionally, Philip conducts virtual trainings for his team, on topics such as infection control via personal hygiene and fire safety awareness and prevention. He has also been attending virtual online courses under our Learning Management System such as Digital Awareness in a Healthcare Setting, and enrolled in other WSQ courses under NTUC Learning Hub.

Philip is tremendously happy with his path now and is very glad that he chose to make a career switch where he is able to derive great joy from helping those in need. When asked to share some advice for career switchers, he believes that it is important to love what you do.

“When you are interested, you will only work when it is convenient. When you have passion and commitment, you will do the work any time and every time.”