THE BIG READ: Emotionally drained, caregivers yearn for support

SINGAPORE — May 30, 2015 — Upon learning that his father’s cancer had relapsed, Mr Tejas Ewing made the difficult decision of leaving his job as a consultant for a London-based think-tank to return home.

“Since I knew my father was not going to survive the cancer, in my mind, I knew I had to be there,” said Mr Ewing, 35. The only child in the family, he was raised by his father, after his parents divorced decades ago. In 2011, he came back to Singapore and became his father’s primary caregiver.

Over the next few years, Mr Ewing would help his father run their family business. As his father’s health declined, they decided to downsize the business — selling their office and operating out of home. On top of keeping the business going, Mr Ewing had to shuttle between his father’s medical appointments and chemotherapy sessions several times a week. “Many times, I felt like collapsing. I read up obsessively. Each appointment was only 15 minutes, and I had so many questions. But the doctors always let us ask all them, and they were willing to answer emails,” said Mr Ewing.

His father, who opted for palliative care in early 2013, died in October last year.

Mr Ewing returned to London last month. His experience is not uncommon: With smaller nuclear families, the toll on caregivers, who often have to juggle work and providing care, can be physically and emotionally draining.

Dr Cynthia Goh, head of the palliative medicine department at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, said: “Twenty five years ago, someone at home would give up their job to take care of a sick family member.” These days, fewer people are willing or able to sacrifice their careers, she added. This could lead to a strain on institutionalised services, she noted.

The rapidly ageing population has led to a surge in demand for palliative care services. Overall, there is inadequate social support to help cope with the emotional strain, experts said. There is no quick fix, given that the labour intensive industry remains plagued by a manpower crunch. Home palliative care is the most popular option among caregivers, compared to admitting their loved ones to hospices or palliative care wards in hospitals.

The high demand for home-based caregiving services here has resulted in a growing pool of service providers that includes non-profits and companies well established in the nursing home sector. In February, Singapore-based start-up Caregiver Asia launched a portal to match those seeking care services, such as at-home care, with qualified care professionals.

Hospitals and hospices here continue to provide support for family members of patients, even after the death of their loved ones.

Madam Eunice Ang, 84. whose husband died in 2012, said: “It’s been over three years since my husband died but I still meet up with the nurses and social workers who cared for him.”

Mdm Ang recounted how she learnt to care for her late husband during his fight with diabetes and cancer. Bit by bit, she learnt from the staff of Asisi Hospice, where her husband attended daycare once a week, how to bathe him and give insulin injections, for example.

HCA Hospice Care offers training and respite care programmes, such as camps, for patients and caregivers. “We also have a Sunflower Remembrance Day three times a year, where we bring back caregivers who had recent deaths in the family to share their experiences,” said Dr R. Akhileswaran, chief executive of HCA Hospice Care. “Our doctors and nurses will be around to observe how they’re coping.”

 

On-call Caregivers Coming to a Portal Near You

SINGAPORE, Feb 3 — People in need of respite, step-down and at-home care will now be able to book and confirm their appointments instantly.

Caregiver Asia today launched an online matching portal that allows people to search and book services with caregivers. It also allows healthcare and caregiving professionals, such as doctors, allied-health professionals and nurse aides, to list their services on the portal.

Practitioners can state their areas of specialty, along with their terms and conditions of service, giving them the opportunity to cast a wider net for those requiring care services.

Caregiver Asia chief executive Yeo Wan Ling said the failure to receive trusted and on-time care, especially when it comes to the care of a loved one, could lead to heartache and stress for a family. “We believe that everyone deserves to have easy and transparent access to accredited, reasonably priced and quality care services,” she said.

The portal will also give those unable to work full time an opportunity to re-enter the workforce as independent health and care practitioners. Towards this end, Caregiver Asia, which was established last February, will partner Silver Spring, a social enterprise that helps mid-career professionals find second careers.

“Through (the) portal, retired nurses and mid-career switchers, who have much to contribute in terms of their expertise and energy … can find creative outlets to provide their services,” said Silver Spring founding partner and chief executive Helen Lim.

Caregiver Asia has plans to extend the portal, which took half a year to develop, to other parts of Asia, including Malaysia and Hong Kong, and hopes to build a network of one million caregivers across the region by year’s end. — TODAY Online

Singapore Startup’s Online Portal Is A Lifesaver For Full-Time Caregivers

SINGAPORE — February 04, 2015 — Searching for appropriate, cost-effective healthcare services are a pain. I should know: my grandma has Alzheimer’s disease, and as we watched her mind and body weaken, we struggled to find the right people to help her — and us — cope with the new problems that surfaced on a weekly basis.

So when Caregiver Asia launched their online portal yesterday, I couldn’t help but give a tiny sigh of relief.

Caregiver Asia’s homepage

The concept is a straightforward one: the portal works as an online marketplace, where healthcare professionals can list their services and pricing, as well as information such as their personal profiles. At the same time, people looking to engage the help of these professionals can access the portal to select from the list of services available.

Listing of healthcare services available

Healthcare services sorted by category

It’s tough enough having to cope with illness in a family, and having to search for reliable, trustworthy healthcare professionals only adds to the stress. To ensure that users of the portal will receive quality services, Caregiver Asia screens the certification of the healthcare professionals listed on their site.

According to Today, the pricing of the services are determined by the healthcare professionals themselves, and clients must pay for the services within three days after the service has been offered. Clients will also pay for a 6% booking fee, which will go to Caregiver Asia.

How to make bookings on the Caregiver Asia portal

A quick visit to the portal showed that only 8 services have been posted. However, Caregiver Asia chief executive, Yeo Wan Ling, told Today that up to 8000 professionals have already signed up on the company’s database. She assured visitors to the portal that more services will be available once the healthcare professionals activate their accounts.

I, for one, am definitely pleased with Caregiver Asia’s new portal. It’s a convenient way to match healthcare professionals with those most in need of their help, and in an ageing society like Singapore’s, we definitely need all the help we can get. I can’t help but wonder why such a platform was not available before this, and can only hope that more services will be listed soon.

 

Online Portal Launched to Search and Book Services with Caregivers

SINGAPORE — February 3, 2015 — People in need of respite, step-down and at-home care will now be able to book and confirm their appointments instantly.

Caregiver Asia launched a new online matching portal (http://www.caregiverasia.com) today (Feb 3), which allows people to search and book services with caregivers. It also allows healthcare and caregiving professionals, such as doctors, allied-health professionals and nurse aides, to list their services on the portal.

Practitioners can state their areas of specialty, along with their terms and conditions of service, giving them the opportunity to cast a wider net for those requiring care services.

Caregiver Asia chief executive Yeo Wan Ling said the failure to receive trusted and on-time care, especially when it comes to the care of a loved one, could lead to heartache and stress for a family. “We believe that everyone deserves to have easy and transparent access to accredited, reasonably priced and quality care services,” she said.

The portal will also give those unable to work full time an opportunity to re-enter the workforce as independent health and care practitioners. Towards this end, Caregiver Asia, which was established last February, will partner Silver Spring, a social enterprise that helps mid-career professionals find second careers.

“Through (the) portal, retired nurses and mid-career switchers, who have much to contribute in terms of their expertise and energy … can find creative outlets to provide their services,” said Silver Spring founding partner and chief executive Helen Lim.

Caregiver Asia has plans to extend the portal, which took half a year to develop, to other parts of Asia, including Malaysia and Hong Kong, and hopes to build a network of one million caregivers across the region by year’s end.