More resources needed to train maids in eldercare

We recognise the importance of providing the necessary skills and knowledge to foreign domestic workers (FDWs) so that they can perform their jobs better ("Training needed for maids tasked to care for elderly" by Ms Sheena Kanwar of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics; Monday).

Care for the elderly requires not only proper handling of the physical aspects of body transfers, proper hygiene, bathing and sanitation, and nutrition and diet, but also well-being and medication administration.

These skills are not taught in the normal scheme of things when FDWs are recruited for the average household.

Hence, FDWs who find themselves assigned to homes where there are elderly people to look after would not have been adequately prepared for such roles.

There are already a number of places that provide training for foreign domestic workers who look after the elderly.

These are in non-governmental organisations and, to some extent, nursing homes and hospitals.

However, the numbers that are able to make use of such opportunities are small, as compared with the large proportion of untrained FDWs who are in eldercare.

In July, the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) launched a 165-hour intensive Specialist Home-based Caregiver Programme.

We also have shorter one- to three-day programmes.

The response to our intensive caregiver programme was overwhelming. We received more than 100 inquiries, but only 46 foreign domestic workers were selected for the course.

There is already a queue for the next course next month. This is a very clear sign of the high demand for such training.

As a not-for-profit organisation, Fast keeps course fees affordable to enable those who are not sponsored by their employers to be able to sign up.

Fast is able to train only small numbers due to limited resources. We aim to ramp up the numbers.

We call on relevant parties to help us provide the resources to do so, in view of our rapidly ageing population.

Helen Tan (Ms)

Vice-President

Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'More resources needed to train maids in eldercare'. Print Edition | Subscribe