Serena Chua
Senior Case Manager
Agency for Integrated Care

Bongsu*, the youngest of seven children, was born with Down Syndrome and has severely impaired intellectual capacity. Unable to communicate with others, he was wholly dependent on his late mother and foreign domestic worker (FDW) to take care of all his needs. His eldest brother Baba*, a pensioner, provides a roof over Bongsu’s head but is not involved in his daily care.

After their mother passed away, the responsibility for Bongsu’s wellbeing fell on the shoulders of Bebe* – his only sister and a 65-year-old retiree. In addition, Bongsu’s longterm domestic helper expressed her intention to return home as she felt burnt out after caring for her ward for so many years. With these developments, Bebe called the Singapore Silver Line (SSL), managed by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), to request for assistance to admit Bongsu to a nursing home. The family’s case was channelled to AIC’s Community Care Assessment and Care Coordination team, who were my first point of contact with the family. I called Bebe to arrange for a home visit to assess her brother’s functional status and eligibility for nursing home admission.

During the visit, I observed that Bongsu slept on a mattress on the floor as his family members were worried that he would fall off the bed and injure himself. As such, it required a lot of effort for the domestic helper to hoist Bongsu up from the mattress onto his wheelchair every day. It was a big source of stress for the helper as this required the concerted effort of two persons and she had to turn to their neighbours for assistance. Moreover, the wheelchair Bongsu used was faulty.

As the day progressed, it became clear that Bebe wanted very much to continue caring for Bongsu at home. I suggested that she employ a new helper to take care of her brother. By applying for the FDW Grant, the costs involved in hiring a new helper would be defrayed. In order to prepare the new helper to care for Bongsu’s basic needs, she would receive training from a home-based healthcare training provider. The training costs could be offset by the Caregivers Training Grant.

The Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund also helped to subsidise the purchase of a new hospital bed and wheelchair for Bongsu. Bebe only needed to pay 10 per cent of the total cost for the new equipment.

Thanks to the training, the new domestic helper was able to transfer Bongsu from the hospital bed to the wheelchair safely, without hurting her back. She also learnt how to operate the new electrical hospital bed which Bongsu now sleeps in. With the new wheelchair, Bongsu is now able to go on daily outings with the helper.

As for Bebe, she was taught how to use the eldercare service locator on AIC’s Singapore Silver Pages and the mobile apps available to source for eldercare services and facilities in the area. Bebe is more confident in caring for her brother now, thanks to her new-found knowledge. She knows that she can always call SSL shouldshe require more assistance.

At the end of the day, we are pleased that all parties involved had their varied needs met, and are happier for it.

Key Learning Points:

  1. Education is necessary to empower members of the community to tap into available resources and information.
  2. Matching available funds and grants to clients and their families can help to support the caregivers. It can also make home care a viable option.
  3. At times, home care is indeed the best option, if the caregivers have the necessary support and training.