Parliament: Caregivers of people with autism or intellectual disability to get more support

From April 1, caregivers of people with autism or intellectual disability will be able to apply for the discounted maid levy of $60 instead of paying the current flat rate of $265.
From April 1, caregivers of people with autism or intellectual disability will be able to apply for the discounted maid levy of $60 instead of paying the current flat rate of $265.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Caregivers of people with autism or intellectual disability will get more support, including help to defray the cost of hiring a foreign domestic worker.

Currently, caregivers of those who cannot perform activities of daily living such as going to the toilet or showering, can apply for a discounted maid levy and a $120 monthly grant depending on the level of support required.

With the change, to kick in on April 1, these caregivers will also be able to apply for these schemes via an alternative assessment.

"We estimate that about 1,000 persons with disabilities and their caregivers could benefit," said Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim in Parliament on Wednesday (March 7).

He said the alternative assessment will, in particular, help people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder who need help with performing activities of daily living.

MSF has worked with the Ministry of Health to include MSF’s Client Assessment Form as an alternative assessment tool to evaluate the level of support a person needs to perform activities of daily living, to support applications for the foreign domestic worker levy concession and grant, he added.

Dr Faishal said that from 1 April 2018, persons with disabilities and their caregivers can approach the special education schools, or disability care services such as Day Activity Centres to have the assessment done onsite or be linked up to the Therapy Hubs for the assessment.

During the debate on the budget of the MSF, Dr Faishal also announced that a Caregivers' Space will be set up at the Enabling Village by the end of the year.

This will serve as a meeting place for peer support groups, as a place for the training of caregivers of people with disabilities, and as a venue for engagement sessions for caregivers held by voluntary welfare organisations as well as community partners. Caregivers will also be able to get information and advisory service at the Enabling Village.

Responding to suggestions from MPs including Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC), Dr Faishal said: "We want caregivers to come, learn from the experiences of fellow caregivers, and get advice and moral support as they walk their caregiving journey. This will strengthen the network of support for caregivers, which Mr Desmond Choo spoke about."

Dr Faishal also announced that the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC), a non-profit firm that offers subsidised trust services, will step up efforts to raise awareness about their care planning and financial education services.

The company has already helped about 500 families.

"Over the next five years, SNTC will work with community partners, including the SSOs (social service offices), to reach out to more than 1,700 caregivers of persons with disabilities," he said.