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Gaining confidence and competence in caregiving

Caring for loved ones with disabilities is no easy journey – it can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it is no walk in the park. But there are some things caregivers can do to help them care for their loved ones better.

Familiarity with disability supports is one; good care skills are another. Yet more importantly is self-care – caregivers must be in good shape themselves in order to take care of their loved ones. Caregivers can be inspiring and your story can give others much encouragement and hope – such as those caregivers in Model Caregiver Awards by AWWA, Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Awards.

 

Care skills

There are various other ways for caregivers to equip themselves with the skills and techniques to carry out daily care tasks, therapy and intervention, and condition management.

Courses

Formal training is probably the most straightforward option. The Caregivers Training Grant (CTG) provides subsidies for the cost of training undertaken by caregivers - a list of the courses supported by CTG can be found below:

VWOs, private service providers, hospitals and employment agencies may also provide training relevant to caregivers.

As service providers such as educators and therapists have limited interaction time with their clients, family caregivers may find it useful to learn from their service providers where possible, so that they can extend the same training or therapy to the person they care for at home. Some service providers do conduct courses for this purpose – caregivers may like to check with them.


Self-study

Many caregivers also gain skills and knowledge from books, resources from libraries and internet. To offer more learning options, SG Enable has made available some virtual reality (VR) modules that can help caregivers better understand how their loved ones experience the world as well as teach them life skills.

These modules are on YouTube or Storyhive app. They are better viewed with VR goggles. For those who do not have such goggles, they could arrange to watch the videos at the Caregivers Pod at Enabling Village. 

In the course of searching for information or researching on a topic, one may come across different methods and schools of thought regarding therapy and intervention, which can be confusing to even experienced caregivers. Naturally, it can be tempting to chase the latest ‘treatment’ or ‘cure’ - caregivers may want to seek professional advice, review the evidence, talk to others and proceed with caution.

 

Self-care

Caregivers often find it hard to take a break. But it is important that you do – both for you and for the person you care for. Looking after your physical, emotional and mental well-being is a necessity for the long-run, not something to feel guilty about. A healthy caregiver is able to care better for his/ her loved ones. The Health Promotion Board and Health Hub offer health tips and programmes for healthy living.

For caregivers looking after someone needing constant attention, taking time away from caregiving – even for a short hour or two - means finding an alternative caregiver who can be trusted – ‘trusted’ being the operative word. No one can be exactly the same as you, the primary caregiver. That said, knowing what respite options are available can help you plan better when the need arise. The common types of respite include professional home-care services, or community-based facilities which provide some respite for caregivers during the day, such as day activity centre and drop-in disability service.  Disability homes offer short-term live-in respite care. Other activity-based respite programmes enhance the social integration of the persons with disabilities while allowing caregivers some rest time.

Caring for someone with disability is a long-term, if not life-long, commitment, so caregiver burnout and mental distress are very real issues. Find a support group or meet other caregivers whom you can talk to. Keep in touch with friends. It is important not to be alone in the care journey.

When the pressure builds up, professional counselling or therapy may give caregivers much needed help to regain their balance. Friends and family can be good sounding boards as they can be quicker to spot tell-tale signs of mental and emotional distress. Seeking help should not be seen as a sign of weakness. For more information in mental wellness and seeking help, see the links below:

 For more resources for caregivers, check out the Publications section in this website.