For 45 Sundays or so starting July 10, Ms Cristina Ganancial Alvarez and 45 other maids will spend more than three hours each time learning how to better take care of the elderly.
Part of a newly launched training course by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), lessons will deal with topics such as heart attacks, how to manage aggressive elderly people, and how to properly carry an immobile person.
The 165-hour course costs $120 after subsidies of about 75 per cent from Fast, although five of the maids were given scholarships.
One of them is Ms Alvarez, a 41-year-old Filipina, who said she signed up because she hopes to learn a lot.
She looks after a household of six, including her employer and his wife, who are in their 60s.
"They are still healthy, but they may need more help in the future. I want to be prepared because I want to work with them for a long time," she said
The training course, which will be conducted by Care Advisors Recruitment Enterprise (Care) and facilitated by a doctor, a physiotherapist and nurses, had places for 40 sign-ups, but saw 70 applications.
The next round of admission for about 50 places will open in September.
Those who complete the course will receive a specialist certificate in home-based caregiving, certified by Fast, Care and the caregiver's embassy.
Mr Seah Seng Choon, president of Fast, a non-government organisation, said training maids in caregiving would benefit both the worker and the employer.
"To be able to age gracefully in the comfort of one's home is the hope of many Singaporeans... and it will enhance the well-being of the elderly at home when the caregiver is well-trained," he said yesterday at the launch event at Fast's clubhouse in Raeburn Park.
"Based on feedback we have received, many domestic helpers would also like to be better skilled in taking care of the elderly."
Meanwhile, Fast yesterday confirmed that it will start holding its monthly mediation service from July.
This is for maids and employers to work out their differences with the help of mediators at the Fast clubhouse.
There will be seven volunteer mediators, each with at least 15 years of experience in community mediation, to start with.
Fast receives an average of 166 calls a month, with about two in 10 being about employment issues such as termination or disputes over agency fees. Nearly half are about emotional support and adjustment difficulties.
Appointments for mediation can be made by calling 6509-1535.
The services will continue to be provided at Fast's new clubhouse, which it is moving into in August.
The 7,000 sq ft space in the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Building in Jalan Bukit Merah is about 3 1/2 times bigger than the current premises.
The new club will include kitchens for baking classes, music rooms and a gym, and will provide more space for Fast's 50 domestic helper volunteers as well as its domestic helper members, who now number about 5,000 - up from 200 two years ago.
Fast also announced that it will be launching a three-day induction programme for maids from the third week of next month.
The free course will include lessons on food hygiene and a field trip to learn about the different cultures in Singapore as well as how to use the public transport system.
Employment agencies will nominate workers to attend the course and will bear the cost of the programme after subsidies from Fast.