Social and Leisure Matters after Stroke: Returning to Work

Post-stroke management tips on returning to work 

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Approximately 30 per cent of stroke survivors are below 60 years old. “Can I return to work?” is a common question raised by stroke survivors. To answer this challenging question, we must first understand the effects of the stroke, how it affects your ability to work, and its impact on your return to work. It is essential to have adequate rest to recuperate and regain your health before returning to work. Here are some tips and resources available for you and your family to help with this transition.

Starting this journey

Here are some points to consider:


Focus on what you can do.

Understand how changes in your physical abilities, thinking and communication may affect you at work. Certain job tasks may be difficult for you to do.



Fatigue, which is common after stroke, can affect your ability to return to work.

The need for frequent rest breaks can make it difficult to return to full-time work. Keep in mind that it can take a while to regain your previous level of energy and activity tolerance.




Having awareness into your capabilities 

Some tasks may appear easier or harder than you think they are. Discuss your plan to return to work with your occupational therapist and doctor. 



Be prepared that you may not be able to return to your previous job.

Depending on your current capability, you may or may not be able to do the job you used to do. Discuss with your employer if there are other options such as alternative work arrangements such as shorter work hours or a change of job scope.




Plan well and set a realistic goal.

Speak with your occupational therapist about your plan to return to work, he/she can help to review your strengths, weaknesses and functional ability and match them to the requirements of the job.

Benefits of returning to work

Returning to work may be helpful to one’s recovery. It may improve your overall quality of life.

  • Physical
    Returning to work would require you to leave your home. Travelling to and from work helps you to remain physically active.
  • Cognitive (thinking ability)
    Being at work helps stimulate the brain which may improve your concentration and memory.
  • Financial
    Returning to work allows you to gain some level of financial independence and be able to contribute to your family’s needs.
  • Social
    Going back to work allows you to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Interacting with other people in the course of your work provides a sense of social identity and contribution.
  • Emotional
    Although it may be daunting at the beginning, you can gradually build up confidence and self-esteem as you regain independence through work.

Getting Help

Discuss with your doctor, healthcare professionals and employer to develop a plan for your return to work. Some steps to take:



Medical Clearance – Doctor

Speak to your doctor on your health status and fitness to return to work.



Work Rehabilitation – Occupational Therapy

An Occupational Therapist can help to facilitate your return to work by providing these services, as necessary:

  • Assess your abilities and readiness to return to work
  • Optimise your work abilities through work conditioning
  • Conduct work-site assessments and provide advice on job and work-site modifications
  • Facilitate transition back to work through liaising with your doctor and employer to determine a suitable return to work plan, as part of a return-to-work coordination service

Speak with your Employer

Speak to your supervisor to update them on your medical and functional progress. Check in with your employer about their openness to workplace accommodations, such as phased return to work with reduced/flexible hours, lighter duties, or physical workplace adaptations. Discuss and re-evaluate job targets and goals to better manage the expectation of your work performance.


Social Support

You may have to discuss with your family to make adjustments and adapt to changes. Having family and friends to support you on this journey is important for your wellbeing. You may also consider community support for financial issues.

For more information and resources


Bizlink Centre is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the disadvantaged individuals, in particular persons with disabilities, through training and employment in Singapore.

Bizlink’s programmes provide a variety of soft skills and on-the-job training that maximize opportunity for participants to reach their fullest potential.

Family Service Centres (FSCs)Family Service Centres (FSCs) are based in the community to provide help and support to individuals and families in need. They are staffed by social service professionals. FSCs are located in HDB towns around Singapore, you may visit the website below to find the FSC nearest to you.

SG Enable is an Agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities. Some key functions of SG Enable include:

• Providing information and referral services for child and adult schemes;

• Administering grants and support to persons with disabilities and their caregivers;

• Improving transition management across different life stages;

• Enhancing employability and employment options for persons with disabilities; and

• Rallying stakeholder support in enabling persons with disabilities.


* For Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents only.


Hotline: 1800 8585 885


SPD is a local charity set up to help people with disabilities of all ages to maximize their potential and integrate them into mainstream society.

Through over 20 programmes including vocational training, employment and social service support, SPD serve people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities.


Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council works closely with the Ministry of Manpower and other government agencies, the tripartite partners, the industry, and professional associations to develop strategies to raise WSH standards in Singapore. One of its main functions is to promote safety and health at work.

Return To Work (RTW) Programme

It is an initiative to provide early intervention to help injured workers regain their work ability and long-term employability and ensure that they contribute to economic productivity at the workplace. A hospital-based RTW coordinator is the key liaison person between all the stakeholders.

Please refer to WSHC’s website for more information, list of participating hospitals and contact numbers, and brochures.

Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations (ABLE) is a social service agency that aims to enable the physically challenged to live with dignity and to have productive, meaningful and independent lives. 




Article available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

For more information on how to better manage your stroke recovery journey, visit Stroke E-Resources.

StrokeHub Video: 

Returning to Work (Extended Version) 

Returning to Work 


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