Timely help for father and son

Mr Laminn Koko (left), from Myanmar, has proven to be a good helper for Mr John Ashworth (right), after the patient's son, Mr Richard Ashworth, had little success with two previous female maids.
Mr Laminn Koko (left), from Myanmar, has proven to be a good helper for Mr John Ashworth (right), after the patient's son, Mr Richard Ashworth, had little success with two previous female maids.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

When his 81-year-old father was diagnosed with dementia four years ago, Mr Richard Ashworth tried to take care of him on his own.

The 60-year-old found that he could not cope.

He hired two female maids, one after another, but his father, a man of substantial physique, would sometimes get violent, or try to touch them, without knowing what he was doing.

So, when Mr Ashworth read a Straits Times report last year on Homekeeper bringing in male helpers, he called the company. Now, Mr Laminn Koko, from Myanmar, has become a vital part of the family - an uncommon success story for Homekeeper's push to bring in male helpers. The 24-year-old showers Mr Ashworth's father, Mr John Ashworth, cleans him up after he goes to toilet and even continues his cross-stitching for him at the Jurong condominium where they stay.

"Without Koko's help, I cannot manage," Mr Ashworth said, breaking down as he recalled the emotional strain he went through when having to take care of his father, who had adopted him, alone.

He also has a slipped disc, which would cause him pain whenever he had to shower his father. "Koko has made my life so much easier."

The helper works from 6.30am to 8pm, after which Mr Ashworth takes over.

But Mr Koko admits he had second thoughts and had even decided to leave after paying off the fees he owed a Myanmar recruiting agency.

"At first, I will get angry. But then, I breathe, and tell myself I must understand that Uncle John is sick," he told The Sunday Times. With the help of a dictionary, he has picked up English.

When his own mother suffered a stroke earlier this year, Mr Koko went back to Myanmar. Mr Ashworth feared that his helper would not return, but he did.

When asked whether he will go back to Myanmar when his contract ends next August, Mr Koko said: "I don't want to go. If I go, who will take care of Uncle John?"

Jalelah Abu Baker