NGO rolls out new training course and mediation service for maids

Ms Nwe Nwe Oo, recipient of a scholarship from Fast, who will begin classes from July 10.
Ms Nwe Nwe Oo, recipient of a scholarship from Fast, who will begin classes from July 10.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

SINGAPORE - A structured, 165-hour training course in caregiving for domestic helpers was launched on Tuesday (June 28) by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast).

The non-government organisation will also be launching a monthly mediation service, which will run from July, for helpers and employers to work out disputes with the help of master mediators with experience in community mediation centres.

The training course will be conducted by Care Advisors Recruitment Enterprise (Care), a placement and training provider for the eldercare and healthcare sectors, over 45 weekly Sunday classes.

Lessons will cover topics such as dealing with heart attacks, managing aggressive elderly people, and how to properly carry an immobile person. The sessions will be facilitated by a team of healthcare professionals such as a doctor, nurses and a physiotherapist.

The first batch of 46 women, five of whom will be on scholarships from Fast, will begin classes on July 10. The course costs $120 after subsidies, of about 75 per cent, from Fast.

The women were selected based on their experience and their passion for looking after the elderly, said Care's managing director Satyaprakash Tiwari. Those who complete the course will receive a specialist certificate in home-based caregiving, certified by Fast, Care and the caregiver's embassy.

Fast's president Seah Seng Choon said training domestic helpers in caregiving would benefit both the workers and their employers.

He said: "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 elderly at home when the caregiver is well-trained," he said at the launch event on Tuesday (June 28) at Fast's clubhouse in Raeburn Park.

He added: "Also based on feedback we have received, many domestic helpers would like to be better skilled in taking care of the elderly."

Meanwhile, seven mediators, each with at least 15 years of experience in community mediation, will be volunteering to man Fast's new mediation services at its clubhouse.

Fast receives an average of 166 calls a month, with about two in 10 being about employment issues such as termination of employment or disputes over agency fees, and 45 per cent being about emotional support and adjustment difficulties.

Mr Michael Chew, one of the mediators, said he hopes the service will help employers and workers to decide together on the best way forward, without having to make use of legal services.

"This is one area which is often neglected. Domestic helpers are here to make life easier for us, but when disputes happen who is there for them?" said Mr Chew, who is also chief executive of AVA Insurance Brokers and a court mediator at the Small Claims Tribunal.

Appointments for mediation can be made by calling 6509-1535.

The mediation will continue at Fast's new clubhouse when it moves in August to its new 7,000 sq ft premises in the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Building in Jalan Bukit Merah.

This 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 on Tuesday that it will be launching a three-day induction programme for domestic helpers from the third week of July. 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.