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North East CDC launches relief eldercare programme

The NE Relief Caregivers programme is aimed at alleviating the stress that some caregivers face by giving them some time off.

Robin Choo on 09 Jan 2015

Channel News Asia


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SINGAPORE: A new programme has been launched by the North East Community Development Council (CDC) to give caregivers some time off for a day so that they can run errands and settle matters outside of home.


With an ageing population in Singapore, the issue of caregiving has become more pertinent, and the NE Relief Caregivers programme is aimed at alleviating the stress that some caregivers face. Feedback from North East CDC residents had shown there was a demand for relief eldercare services.


In the second half of last year, the Ministry of Health introduced the Centre-Based Weekend Respite Care programme – administered by the Agency for Integrated Care – to offer caregivers the option of leaving their elderly family members at the centres on Saturdays to take time off for work, run errands or a break. Fees for this programme range from S$32 to S$72, before subsidies, for each weekend session.


Most nursing homes also offer respite care services for periods of several days, but these can cost up to S$370 a day.


Of the CDCs contacted by TODAY, North West CDC said while it does not have a formalised programme, it has a group of welfare volunteers who are able to provide eldercare services for families who need them.


While South East CDC said it does not provide relief eldercare services at district-level, it works with community partners to provide caregiver training and befriending programme for vulnerable elderly and their caregivers through the Neighbours for Active Living programme. “Some elements of caregiver respite are provided so that the caregivers have some personal time,” it added.




The NE Relief Caregivers can be tapped by low-income families for free, while those who can afford will pay S$10 an hour. Families can engage the caregivers’ services for up to eight hours a week. Longer periods can be arranged – on a case-by-case basis – for those who need it.


Mr Teo Ser Luck, Mayor of North East District, said he had come across cases of families who were struggling to provide care for their elderly members during his interactions with residents.


“I realised that maybe, there was a need for relief care,” he said.


The North East CDC initially had problems recruiting volunteers, partly due to the fact that the idea of volunteer relief caregivers is an uncommon one. It currently has 10 volunteers, aged 50 to 68.


“I hope to increase to 20 or more (relief caregivers),” said Mr Teo, who is also Minister of State (Trade and Industry).


The 10 volunteers on Thursday ended a three-day training course at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They will be matched to families in the North East CDC district who have applied for the service through community organisations. The volunteers will receive an allowance of S$10 per hour.


Relief caregivers are trained to provide companionship to seniors, assist them in moving around the house, especially to the toilet, help feed them during meal times, ensure they take the correct medication and dressing wounds.


The programme is fully sponsored by Mr Li Ming Ding, who works in the private equity sector.


One of the volunteers, Mr Dhanraj, 59, said he decided to join the programme because he noticed that there were many people who needed help, but did not know where to seek it. Another volunteer, Mr Simon Seow Hock Chye, 68, who had previously helped at the Assisi Hospice as a volunteer caregiver said: “As long as I can give (back to society), I give.”


Source: Channel News Asia. Reproduced with permission.

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