Doing simple procedures themselves helps special-needs kids' parents save costs

For many families with special-needs children, it is not that we are "unwilling" to hire a private nurse; many of us are unable to afford it (Wanted: Maid... or master of all trades?; March 12).

The cost of taking care of a medically-complex child does not only involve nursing help.

It also involves consumables such as suction catheters, feeding tubes and syringes, as well as therapies, hospital consultations, and special dietary requirements.

The expenditure for these life-sustaining needs can easily add up to thousands of dollars a month. There are subsidies, but parents still have to fork out money.

Parents of children with special needs try to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Jobs such as suctioning liquids from throats and tube-feeding are simple procedures that can be done by parents or domestic helpers, and do not require years of medical training.

My youngest son spent the first four months of his life in the intensive care unit.

The expenditure for life-sustaining needs can easily add up to thousands of dollars a month. There are subsidies, but parents still have to fork out money.

When he was discharged, he was on a ventilator and had a tracheostomy and a feeding tube.

Our helper does not even have a primary school certificate but she eventually found the courage to try some nursing procedures under supervision. She found them easy enough.

Should parents like me have to go for a two-year Diploma in Special Care in order to qualify as carers at home?

Taking care of special-needs children is not daunting. Anyone can be trained to do it.

What is needed is a change of mindset by society.

We would have progressed as a society when we become more accepting of children with special needs; when we do not avert our eyes when we see a person in a wheelchair or on a ventilator, and when we no longer pull our children away from "the boy with a feeding tube".

Teo Yin Yin (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Doing simple procedures themselves helps special-needs kids' parents save costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe