We agree that merely changing the laws will not address the issue of abuse of the elderly (Can maids cope with the added burden of being a caregiver too?; Sept 17).
In Singapore, many families engage foreign domestic workers to care for the elderly at home.
In choosing this option, employers need to understand that the skillset for elderly caregiving is very different and can often be more demanding than that for household domestic work.
Domestic helpers involved in caregiving roles need proper skills such as having a good understanding of the elderly; activities of daily living; mental/physical function and diseases; personal care and rehabilitation; safety and accident prevention in the home and related knowledge and skills.
Often, the experience that the domestic worker brings to the job may not be appropriate and useful in elderly caregiving.
Employers must understand this.
Unless they are properly trained, foreign domestic workers will find the task of caregiving extremely stressful.
What is worse is that they do not have anyone to turn to when they burn out.
There is caregiver support available for family members looking after elderly people but, sadly, no such services are offered for the foreign domestic workers in caregiving roles.
Perhaps the relevant authorities should provide support services such as home visits by properly trained and qualified nurses to complement the role of the caregiver.
We would like to urge employers, employment agencies and the relevant authorities to look into putting in place a holistic approach to support foreign domestic workers engaged in caregiving roles.
Seah Seng Choon
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support & Training (FAST)