Extended course for maids gives eldercare a boost

(From far left) Scholarship recipients Cristina Ganancial Alvarez; Khin Nilar Win, 29; Nwe Nwe Oo, 31; and Quinsay Cherry May Dalawis, 33, with Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, managing director of the Care Academy, at yesterday's graduation event.
(From far left) Scholarship recipients Cristina Ganancial Alvarez; Khin Nilar Win, 29; Nwe Nwe Oo, 31; and Quinsay Cherry May Dalawis, 33, with Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, managing director of the Care Academy, at yesterday's graduation event.PHOTO: MARCUS TAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For Ms Cristina Ganancial Alvarez, having the right skills to care for the elderly couple she affectionately calls "Po Po" and "Gong Gong" is topmost on her mind.

That is why the Filipino domestic worker, 41, volunteered for a 160-hour eldercare course run by the Care Academy and the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) to learn skills to take care of her employer's parents.

"If something happens or they fall down, I now know what to do. If they are breathless I need to ask them to breathe deeply, take their blood pressure, and call for an ambulance if necessary," said Ms Alvarez, one of 44 foreign domestic workers who graduated yesterday from the course.

She was also one of four scholarship recipients for the Specialist Certificate in Home-based Eldercare course.

The programme equips foreign domestic workers with skills to care for the elderly, such as wound dressing, feeding, as well as communicating with non-verbal cues such as eye contact and head nods to overcome language problems.

Fast executive director William Chew said Ms Alvarez was awarded the scholarship because she placed the interests of her employer's family above herself.

"Her compassion for the family was very touching. Very few would tell the employer they wanted to care for their loved ones," he said.

The course, which started in June and comprised 40 four-hour sessions, is more comprehensive than other eldercare courses available for maids which last a few days at most. It is meant to help address a steadily ageing population here.

The second edition of the course began last month with 30 trainees, and the third run will start next month.

The training costs $520, but participants need to pay only $120 after subsidies. The course is free for scholarship recipients.

Lin Yangchen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'Extended course for maids gives eldercare a boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe