More training, welfare programmes for foreign domestic workers in Singapore

June 29, 20169:25 am709 views
More training, welfare programmes for foreign domestic workers in Singapore
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) volunteers at an event marking Foreign Domestic Workers' Day. (Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A non-profit organisation has introduced more training courses and welfare programmes for foreign domestic workers in Singapore, including a course that trains them on providing care to the elderly.

Under the specialist caregiver programme, launched on Tuesday (Jun 28) by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), maids can pick up skills in areas such as caring for dementia patients and mobility support for seniors.

The programme costs S$520 but foreign domestic workers only need to pay S$120 after subsidies.

Currently, 46 foreign domestic workers have signed up for the course, which will be conducted over 45 Sundays starting from Jul 10.

One of them is Ms Nwe Nwe Oo, who has been looking after her 63-year-old employer, who has cancer. She helps to clean medical equipment and ensures that her employer takes health supplements on time.

The 30-year-old, who is from Myanmar, hopes to learn how to deal with various medical conditions and improve her job prospects.

“I need to have a certificate. (If) I don’t have a certificate, it will be very difficult to find another job,” she said.

The course is certified by FAST, Care Advisors Recruitment Enterprise (CARE), which provides manpower solutions to the healthcare sector, and the respective embassies.

CARE’s managing director, Satyaprakash Tiwari, said the programme will first start with simple topics like handwashing techniques before moving on to infection control.

“Then (they will) move into monitoring of vital signs, and then moving further up, they will go into how to deal with emergencies if say there’s a stroke, heart attack, fractures, and then we’ll go specifically into dementia care,” he said.

FAST’s president, Seah Seng Choon, commented: “We also recognise that the workforce is ageing. Therefore, there is a need for such a service to be provided, particularly such a service that can be provided at home – if you have a foreign domestic helper – rather than sending the elderly to homes, which can be expensive for the employer.”

He added: “The certification is recognised by various quarters, including the embassies themselves. With the proper certification of the foreign domestic helpers, we expect the value of the foreign domestic helper service to be enhanced, and we certainly would look forward to foreign domestic workers earning more, because they are able to save costs for the employer and at the same time, provide the convenient service at home.”

FAST has also launched a three-day induction programme for foreign domestic workers who are new to Singapore. The programme will include classroom learning, roleplay and field trips to help the workers better understand the cultures, values and religions in Singapore.

The pilot programme will be rolled out with six employment agencies from the end of July.

MEDIATION SERVICES FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Starting from July 2016, foreign domestic workers and their employers will also be able to access expanded mediation services to help them resolve disputes. This follows feedback gathered from maids. Of the 160 calls which maids make to FAST’s hotline every month, 45 per cent relate to loneliness and the difficulties of adjusting to life in Singapore, while about 20 per cent relate to disputes on topics such as employment contracts and rest days.

Master mediators with experience from Community Mediation Centres have been appointed to offer more professional help. For a start, the FAST Volunteer Mediation Service will be offered once a month.

FAST will move to a new clubhouse from August to cater to its growing membership. The new premises at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation building in Bukit Merah will be more than three times bigger than its current premises at Raeburn Park.

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