Room for more cooperatives to meet social needs of ageing population

The recent article on the growing number of young caregivers in Singapore serves as a wake-up call to one of the pressures that Singapore will need to cope with in the face of an ageing population (Still young, and already a caregiver; May 6).

It is, without doubt, a worrying trend that the age of caregivers is getting younger.

As more young caregivers seek help, what is even more concerning and perhaps signals the next rising issue to address, is how to prepare people and provide them with the support they will need when the role of caregiving falls unexpectedly on their shoulders.

Caregiving is a demanding responsibility. Not only is it important to equip caregivers with the skills to look after their loved ones, but a robust support network also needs to be put in place to help look after the mental and emotional well-being of caregivers so that they can effectively cope with the daily stresses of caregiving. Access to a network of experienced caregivers, resources and emotional support are all crucial pillars.

In addition to government efforts, there is room for ground-up solutions from the community.

One example of people banding together to help one another is the Silver Caregivers Cooperative, Singapore's first cooperative set up by caregivers for caregivers, which provides caregivers with the skills and support they need.

Its aim is to better the quality of life of caregivers who face a high risk of fatigue, among other struggles.

Through workshops, courses, talks and support groups, it aims to empower caregivers with the relevant holistic skill sets to support and prepare them socially and mentally to be effective caregivers.

The Silver Caregivers Cooperative is currently the leading psychosocial course provider for caregivers in Singapore.

There is room for more cooperatives to emerge and meet the social needs of Singapore's rising ageing population.

Groups looking to form a cooperative can approach the Singapore National Cooperative Federation (SNCF) for support.

SNCF's comprehensive programmes are designed to help cooperatives strengthen their enterprises and social missions so they serve not only their members, but also the interests of the larger community.

Dolly Goh (Ms)

Chief Executive Officer

Singapore National Cooperative Federation

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Room for more cooperatives to meet social needs of ageing population'. Print Edition | Subscribe