Forum: Time to see and value caregiving as a profession

I refer to the Straits Times Online article, "Domestic workers caring for the elderly overworked, lack support in Singapore: Report", published on Wednesday.

Domestic helpers are here to perform domestic work. They are not trained or enabled to provide care, which should be recognised as a specialised task.

Caregiving is a physically and emotionally intensive and hence stressful task that should not be undertaken on top of domestic duties.

The fact that domestic helpers are seen as a viable source of caregiving shows that the skills and stresses of caregiving are undervalued and underestimated and in Singapore.

Many family members argue that if they can handle such a load of work, then so should a helper. But in fact family members themselves are frequently under-skilled and overloaded, and the stresses can be a huge burden. We need to:

• Recognise the stresses of caregiving and the skills needed to do it properly.

• Recognise the importance of quality and not just quantity.

• Recognise the value of quality caregiving.

More articles on this issue are needed to help educate the public.

Caregiving requires specific skills to be matched to specific care recipient needs. This cannot be done by family members or domestic helpers.

As the ratio of older adults to younger adults is growing, we need to see caregiving as a profession, value it as such and manage it proactively.

Ian Selbie

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