Singapore Budget 2018: Affordable help so disabled wife can stay at home

Caring for Madam Kaliammal Narayanasamy Krishnasamy took a toll on Mr Chandra Mogan, who thought he would have to admit her to a nursing home. But he has got help through the Community Networks for Seniors programme, and various grants to make home h
Caring for Madam Kaliammal Narayanasamy Krishnasamy took a toll on Mr Chandra Mogan, who thought he would have to admit her to a nursing home. But he has got help through the Community Networks for Seniors programme, and various grants to make home help more affordable.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

When tour guide Chandra Mogan realised he was unable to care for his disabled wife any longer, he decided to admit her to a nursing home. But that just caused more distress.

Madam Kaliammal Narayanasamy Krishnasamy, 68, has Parkinson's disease, cannot walk and requires constant care. When she visited one home, she began to weep.

"I thought I had to put her into a nursing home," said Mr Chandra, 73. "But I saw her tears coming out and she started shaking her head."

Mr Chandra's work as a tour guide means he can spend up to 12 hours away each day.

He earns between $1,500 and $2,500 a month and has two children, but lives alone with his wife.

Although he had hired a succession of domestic helpers, none stayed for long. One could not get along with his wife, another stole from the family, and a third had a falling out with his son.

Staff from the Community Networks for Seniors programme, who had heard of Mr Chandra's dilemma, offered him another option.

They linked him up with a home nurse, who helped train their fourth domestic helper to care for Madam Kaliammal in their four-room Bedok flat.

 
 
 

They also receive various grants - such as the foreign domestic worker levy concession - that make home help more affordable.

"My wife has improved a lot since the helper came - she eats better now," said Mr Chandra, whose helper has been with them for nearly a year now.

Apart from cooking, the helper also manages Madam Kaliammal's daily leg exercises and takes her downstairs for fresh air.

Having this extra help at home is a weight off Mr Chandra's shoulders: "Showering her, walking her back to the living room... I got really exhausted at times."

He still tries to spend as much time with his wife as possible: "She deserves it. There's nothing like having me at home."

Linette Lai

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Affordable help so disabled wife can stay at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe