New facility to support and train caregivers

(From far right): National Council of Social Service president Anita Fam, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee and Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, trying out virtual reality goggles used for caregiver training a
(From far right): National Council of Social Service president Anita Fam, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee and Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, trying out virtual reality goggles used for caregiver training at the launch of the Caregivers Pod yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Retired principal Yong Cheng Huat and his wife often find it tough having to care for their two special needs sons: Joel, 32, who has had autism spectrum disorder since he was eight, and Philip, 30, who has severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The opening of a new caregivers facility will be a boon for caregivers like Mr Yong, 62, who retired in 2010 to become Joel's primary caregiver.

Located at the Enabling Village in Redhill, the Caregivers Pod is the first facility here for caregivers to attend peer support group activities and training, and where various voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and community partners can engage with them.

At the launch yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said it would be convenient for caregivers to access services such as information or referrals to disability services, support for transport and assistive technology and information about employment.

"We want to support and empower you (caregivers) not just to provide the best possible care to your loved ones, but also to yourselves," he said.

According to the 2010 Survey on Informal Caregiving, commissioned by the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, nearly half - or 45 per cent - of potential caregivers said they needed help or training to properly care for an elderly family member aged 75 and above.

Ms Ku Geok Boon, chief executive of SG Enable, said pulling together various partners in the social and healthcare sectors, government agencies and the community will help make the Caregivers Pod "a safe environment where caregivers can learn from one another, share experiences, and have better access to support".

 
 
 

The facility is free for use. Caregivers need to only register with SG Enable first. There is also a free shuttle service from Redhill MRT station to the facility.

In May, SG Enable also brought together 24 organisations, comprising VWOs and hospitals, to form a caregiver support coalition, which includes members such as the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) and AWWA, to better support caregivers.

Ms Juliah Kasiman, 37, the primary caregiver of her nine-year-old son who has cerebral palsy, looks forward to using the facility.

"The caregiving journey can be challenging and life-changing - it can be emotionally and physically draining and taxing," she said. "Any help matters a lot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'New facility to support and train caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe