Saturday, 22 August 2015

Nurturing "Eldercarers"

This letter was published today. It was a letter I literally dashed off in about ten minutes before shooting off to do my volunteering turn:

I lay claim to making up the word "eldercarers". Most young people thinking of a career prefer to work with children. A Sociology classmate who trained in Social Work said working with old people is a dead-end job. There are no positive outcomes. They die.

Such is the bleak reality. But I remind myself, one day I will be old. If I do not set in place a system that will let me age (and die) gracefully, then I have no one else to blame.

So may I also remind all young people that, barring a nuclear disaster or an asteroid striking the earth, we may live till 130 (yes!). Let us watch how we live and treat older people around us, and let us show those even younger than we are how we wish to be treated when we are 129!


It is good news to hear that the Government is investing in the training of "educarers" of pre-schoolers ("Pre-nursery staff get on-job training"; yesterday).
I urge the authorities to also consider a similar training strategy to better equip "eldercarers" in looking after older people.
This need became clear to me when I did research on the elderly in Britain. There is a dire need to grow the ageing care sector in Singapore as well.
We should not leave our elderly to cheap - or free, when a family member is involved - labour when they deserve the best and most dignified care. We need "eldercarers" who understand the specific physiological, emotional and social needs of the elderly.
In turn, these "eldercarers" need a career progression structure that would make this career attractive to young people or to those returning to work.

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