300 maids gain eldercare certification amid rising demand for skilled caregivers in Singapore
Since her arrival in Singapore six years ago, Ms Leyes Rosalyn Caro has wanted to work in the eldercare sector as a professional caregiver.
Amid the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the 36-year-old Filipina sought opportunities to build on her experience as a domestic helper so she could specialise in caring for the needs of senior clients.
Ms Leyes was one of 300 graduates who on Sunday (March 27) received their certification after completing a home-based eldercare programme conducted by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast).
"Initially, I was lost and unsure of how to get certified, but I received guidance from Fast to join this programme," she said.
"The experienced instructors prepared us for complex conditions that senior clients might have, and how to engage them such that they are joyful and active."
Ms Leyes, who supports her siblings and parents back home with her salary, said she hopes to use the knowledge she has gained from the specialist eldercare training programme to be a better caregiver in the future.
More than 2,000 others have graduated from the programme conducted by Fast, which has been providing eldercare training opportunities to foreign domestic workers since 2005.
Another graduate, Ms Warnakulasuriya Mary Gayani Fernando, 29, has been working in Singapore for more than three years.
The Sri Lankan national, who has been caring for her employer's senior family member for the past two years, took up the certification to improve her skills.
"An elderly person will prefer to stay with their family instead of in a nursing home," she said.
"The skills I have learnt are useful to me and to society. A trained care worker for the elderly will be a great help to a family who is not able to dedicate time to their elderly family member."
While the basic certification is a three-day programme, the specialist certification spans 40 modules and is equivalent to a diploma.
According to Fast, employment agencies have found that employers are willing to pay more than $1,000 to a foreign domestic worker who is trained in caregiving and up to $1,500 to those who have been trained and gained experience from previous employments.
Fast hopes to train 10,000 foreign domestic workers as caregivers by 2025.
The chair of Fast's training and development committee, Ms Helen Tan, congratulated the graduates for their efforts and noted the importance of caregiving in the community.
"I encourage you to pursue your passion and ambition in caregiving and make it a life-long career," she said.
"I would also like to stress that you should feel proud that your work in caring for the elderly is important to all of us here in Singapore, a fast-ageing society."