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CaringSG 2023 Highlights and Memories

CaringSG 2023 Highlights and Memories

CaringSG 2023 Lookback 1
CaringSG 2023 Lookback 2

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National CAREConference 2023: Closing Address by Dr Lim Hong Huay

Closing Address by Dr Lim Hong Huay at the National CAREConference on 8 Dec 2023

Good afternoon, everyone. This is truly an honour to be here today. 

Ladies and gentlemen, caregivers and professionals, this is really a transformative event for all the caregivers in Singapore and I really want to thank you for being here today. 

This whole idea of a National CAREConference and CARECarnival actually started for me personally five years ago, In 2018, my child I have three children, two of them with special  needs the youngest, was diagnosed with autism and had to enter a special school. So, I had to give up my job and become a full-time caregiver.

At the same time, in the same year, my mother-in-law, a very close friend to me, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went on this journey of full-time caregiving as a mother of children with special needs and also a caregiver to a person with dementia and breast cancer. At that point in time I really felt lost. Wow, there’re so many services to navigate, and there’re so many things I need to learn even as a professional (because I’m a doctor). 

I remember I was looking at the mental health and the elderly sector. There were conferences for caregivers or persons with elderly issues, mental health issues, but there wasn’t anything much for persons with disability. 

So in 2019 November, we gathered a group of caregivers and we did the first ever CARE Carnival right here in the Enabling Village. And that was a time that I made a wish. 

I wished that one day, caregivers of persons with disabilities, caregivers of persons with mental health conditions and caregivers of seniors can all come together in one platform, in one day, at one time, and one heart, to look at caregiving as a role, as someone who is important in this nation of Singapore. And we’re able to then work with the professionals, work with the different stakeholders to empower this whole community of caregivers. Not differentiated, not in silos and not cut apart by their dependant’s needs, but we caregivers as one holistic person.

So this is really a dream come true for me to be able to come here today and give this closing speech. Thank you everyone for coming here, to put your hearts and your brain and your lives together to celebrate caregiving and acknowledge the love that every caregiver gives to our dependants. 

For all the caregivers out there, we see you care. And we care for you, too. For all the professionals who are out there, thank you for coming together with caregivers to learn and grow together. And with this Together effort, Singapore can truly become a more inclusive and caring Singapore in the future.

This CAREConference, it’s so enriching in half a day and I’m just thinking to myself, how can we cram it so much in one day? I made a secret wish today that we will have more CARE Conferences in future and maybe longer (in duration) with more topics, so that we can have more cross-pollination and more learning.

What I learnt today is we really need to take a holistic, integrative and ecological approach. It’s not just dependant-centric, there is a caregiver-centric aspect as well when we help caregivers of persons with disabilities, mental health, or seniors. We must also look into the ecosystem and integrate the services to help these caregivers to navigate this lifelong journey of caregiving. 

Secondly, for professionals, while you care for caregivers and care for our loved ones, you have to care for yourself too. So as caregivers, all we need you to be is to be a friend. We need you to first come alongside with us and be our friend first. Please take care of yourself friend. And next, we need you to be resourceful and also be humble and learn together with us. So we can all learn together. We can learn about the different caregiving approaches, different frameworks and different learnings from the different sector.

For caregivers, this is a call to action. We can only make the future better if we are part of that creation process. For caregivers, if you are new, join a support group. If you’re an experienced caregiver, strengthen yourself, be knowledgeable, and come back and serve. There are many caregiver support organisations so we do look forward to you contributing, and volunteering and putting in your lives to enrich other lives. 

And lastly, for family and friends, you are really the sensor and the eyes out there for every caregiver. We need you to be there to bring any caregivers who are struggling to come into the sector. 

Thank you so much everyone for being with us today. 

Lastly, I want to have a shout out for the CARECarnivals coming in the next three Saturdays. Please come and continue this joyful celebration of caregiving and learning together in the next three Saturdays at our CARECarnivals in Enabing Village, Kampung Admiralty as well as Heartbeat@Bedok. I thank everyone for joining this National CAREConference.

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National CARECarnivals 2023 for all Caregivers in Singapore

National CARECarnivals 2023 for all Caregivers in Singapore

A wonderful 3,000 caregivers and their loved ones joined us at the CARECarnivals, organised by AIC Singapore, CaringSG, NCSS and SG Enable, at Enabling Village, Kampung Admiralty, Heartbeat@Bedok over the past three Saturdays. We were so happy to see caregivers from all walks of life coming with their care recipients to enjoy the carnival.

At the first CARECarnival held at Enabling Village, Minister Desmond Lee shared the progress we have made over the past few years together with caregivers, supporters and funders. The heartwarming stories of many caregivers, and CaringSG’s Project 3i support (including CAREbuddy and Step One) were showcased at the carnival via media interviews, exhibits, videos, books and more.

Caregivers could visit the various booths to learn about resources available to enable them in their caregiving journey, such as caring for their physical health, improving their mental health, and joining support groups/networks. There were interesting activities to engage families such as journaling, clay art, henna, DIY cardholder, giant bowling, and food stalls distributing kacang putih, ice cream and popcorn.
 

If you’re a special needs caregiver looking to connect with other caregivers and support groups, join us at www.caring.sg/subscription.

Being a CaringSG member enables you to access our CAREconnect monthly webinars, request for CAREbuddy emotional support, check out other resources in our members’ portal, and receive regular email updates from us on upcoming events, member perks and services that are developed and curated for special needs caregivers and families.

Check out our social posts for more photos!

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Transition from Preschool & EIPIC to Primary School

Transition from Preschool & EIPIC to Primary school

Transitioning to primary school is a significant milestone for any child, and it can be especially challenging for caregivers and special needs children as environments, people and routines change significantly.

As a caregiver who has experienced this journey firsthand, I had the benefit of receiving guidance and emotional support during this transition which eased my son’s journey through uncertainty.

In this article, I’ll share some practical tips to help fellow caregivers navigate the path from preschool and Early Intervention Program for Infants and Children (EIPIC) to primary school so that you and your special needs child can prepare for this transition. This applies for both sons and daughters.

Tips for transition from preschool and EIPIC to primary school

1. Start Early Preparation
Begin the transition process well in advance. Visit the new school, meet the teachers, and familiarize your child with the new environment. If your child’s preschool or EIPIC classmates also happen to be attending the same primary school, letting him know could ease his anxiety.

2. Involve Your Child

Empower your child by involving them in the preparation process. Allow him to choose a backpack, school supplies, or even a special comfort item to bring to school. This involvement fosters a sense of ownership and encourages him to look forward to the new school.

3. Build routines for Primary School 
Consistency and familiarity helps our children adjust to a new routine. Ease him into his new Primary School routine in advance, especially during the weeks leading up to the transition. Gradually introduce changes in daily activities to help your child adapt to the new schedule.

Ideas to try:

  • Let him wear the school uniform a few days before school starts to help him get used to the sensory stimulus of the material. Teach him how to button and unbutton clothes, and manage zippers during toilet breaks or changing clothes. Purchase shoes with velcro if he is not confident of tying shoelaces.
  • Provide opportunities for him to pack and unpack his new bag and pencil case so he knows where his items should be kept.
  • Allow him to spend small amounts of money at the local coffee shop and teach him how to count the change.
  • Recce the school and route to and from the school so he knows what to expect every day.
  • Practise sitting in a classroom setting. Some EIPIC centers recreate classroom settings to enable children to figure out where to place their belongings, what to expect in the classroom, how the teacher may use a whiteboard or other teaching aids, and expected behaviour in class
  • Do a test run of a typical school day, from waking up early in the morning, going to school, and back home.

4. Storify and visualize
Source for social stories online (or create your own) and draw up a visual schedule for the various tasks your child will go through. Use simple language, photos, videos and visuals to explain the changes your child will encounter, including the new school, teachers, and classmates. Revisit the social stories frequently and let him explain the stories back to you to reinforce his learning.

Examples of social stories:

  • Preparing for school: brushing teeth, wearing uniform and shoes, ensuring bag and water bottle are brought along
  • Travelling to school: bus or MRT routes, drop-off points, walking to classroom or hall, time management
  • Attending school: name of teachers and class, location of classroom, expected behavior in classroom, asking for toilet breaks, how to talk to classmates
  • Going home: pick-up points, bus or MRT routes, time management
  • Other school matters: homework routine, packing his bag neatly for the next day, having a conversation with you about school
  • Emergencies: who to call when he feels sick or gets lost by accident, who he can approach for immediate help
  • Socializing: how to make friends, appropriate vs inappropriate touch, dealing with bullying, how to manage emotions

5. Communication with Teachers
Arrange a parent-teacher meeting with your child’s new teachers before school starts if possible, or early in the school year. Share information about your child’s strengths, challenges, and any specific needs they may have. These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss your child’s unique needs, share insights from their preschool experiences, and establish a plan for a smooth transition.

You can ask your child’s EIPIC center to prepare a useful list of information about your child to share with the primary school teachers. Share visuals or routines with the new teachers that could help them anticipate and manage your child positively in the classroom. Ask for feedback and follow-up meetings to check on your child’s transition.

6. Prepare for Sensory Challenges
If your child has sensory sensitivities, work with the new school to create a sensory-friendly environment. Discuss potential triggers and effective strategies to address sensory challenges, ensuring your child feels comfortable and supported.

For example, as my son is a visual learner and may not pick up auditory cues when the teacher is addressing the class, the teacher paired him with a friendly classmate who would tap on my son’s shoulder as a physical cue to look at the teacher. She also let him sit near the front of the class so he would not be distracted visually by other movements.

As my son is also sensitive to sudden, loud sounds, we informed the teacher of his reactions and how to calm him down if he encountered loud sounds due to thunderstorms, construction or unexpected shouting. We also took time to explain to him how he could calm himself down with reference to the Zones of Regulation concept that he learnt in EIPIC.

7. Foster Peer Relationships
Encourage the development of friendships with his peers and foster positive social interactions by organizing playdates, participating in school events, and collaborating with teachers to facilitate inclusive activities. Being able to meet and chat with other parents can also teach us new skills and tips to apply to our challenges.

8. Celebrate Achievements
Celebrate both small and big achievements throughout the transition process. Positive reinforcement boosts your child’s confidence and helps create a positive association with the new school environment, his classmates and teachers, and enjoy learning.

We celebrated the baby steps towards independence, such as buttoning and unbuttoning uniform, noting down homework diligently, learning the names of his friends, playing soccer with other classmates during recess, saving up extra change from recess, helping out with class duties, and looking forward to attending school.

Enjoy the journey!

Transitioning from preschool and EIPIC to primary school for our special needs children requires thoughtful planning, communication, and collaboration with new partners. I hope that these tips will help you and your child enjoy this significant milestone of growing up. 

Be patient with your child, and yourself as well. Have fun and enjoy bonding together; having a positive attitude towards the new phase will influence your child too. 

Break down tasks into baby steps and pace yourself; you have gotten this far in life, and you can reach your next stage with consistent efforts.

– Julia Chan, caregiver of a boy who transited from preschool and EIPIC to Primary School

Learn more via CaringSG Webinars

CaringSG has run several webinars with tips and resources from professionals and caregivers on transiting your child from EIPIC to Primary School. These webinars and resources can be accessed by logging into our Members’ Portal > Profile > Video Resources.

 

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Choose to Seek and Celebrate the Good – By Rachel Fong

Choose to Seek and Celebrate the Good
By Rachel Fong

A precious meal – a tray of toy food – prepared by the author's children for her

“My child has made me a better person.”

This seemed like a simple line yet it spoke so much. When I heard this from a caregiver of a child with special needs, I was touched, inspired, and grateful.

We serve our dependents everyday, pouring our time, effort, care and love into their lives to support them and make them better. How precious and humbling it is, to see it from a different perspective, that our dependents have made us better, just by their presence in our lives and our journey with them.

Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day. In tough seasons of caregiving when we are struggling and exhausted, the mindset of gratitude and appreciation can make a difference in our personal wellness and relationships.

I can choose to remember the meltdowns, the mess, the mistakes, the cries and screams, the demands and chaos, or I can choose to remember the tray of toy food that my young children prepared and served up to me with big smiles, just as I finished whipping up a quick meal for them in the midst of a million other things I had to do.

Thank you caregivers for your resilience, for always choosing to seek and celebrate the good in the midst of everyday challenges.

– Rachel Fong, Program & research executive (CAREbuddy & CAREwell), and caregiver of two children

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While the Path is Less Travelled, You Never Have to Walk Alone – By CAREchampion Lead Tan Pei Cheng

While the Path is Less Travelled, You Never Have to Walk Alone –
By CAREchampion Lead Tan Pei Cheng

CAREchampion Lead Tan Pei Cheng with CaringSG (first 3 photos), and her family (bottom right)

Many of us, as caregivers, have had our fair shares of emotional coaster rides.

As a working mother of 3 boys, my second son was diagnosed with moderate autism when he was 3 years old. Since then, I have been on a journey of discovery, learning, coping with feelings of disappointment, denial, anger, hope and many more. In the initial stages, I remembered vividly the loneliness and helplessness, often taking the easy way out of putting the blame on “fate”.  For a long time, I did not know how to process my emotions.

A simple act of joining a mother’s network group organised by my son’s pre-school opened my eyes. For the first time, I felt that I was not alone. There were other parents, struggling and learning just like me. I saw the challenges they faced and the fighting spirit in each of them, driven by the love for their children. I learned from them that only through acceptance, would I be able to give my son the support he needed. The sharing opened my heart, and the empathy and listening ears from them gave me courage to go on with the demands of daily life.

This is exactly why, when I met Dr Lim Hong Huay through my husband 2 years ago and knew about CaringSG, I offered to be a volunteer as I was inspired by CaringSG’s vision. Before volunteering at CaringSG, I had limited knowledge of the challenges and difficulties of caregivers, especially adult PWDs in Singapore.

I started as a CAREconnect lead with a rudimentary understanding that “I will do outreach and call caregivers for events.” Then, this role was to me was a simple connecting of people together and providing them the opportunity to form a network of support. I thought I was contributing to help, but little did I realise how it would benefit and enrich me too!

In the 2 years with CaringSG, I have always been supported by the lovely folks of CaringSG and feel very welcomed. It was fun to plan the events with the CAREkakis, CAREchampions and the Grassroots leaders. It was very rewarding to get to know caregivers through the activities.

At the beginning, when my calls or follow-ups to caregivers were met with silence, I was disappointed and even felt it hilarious when I was suspected as a scammer (LOL!). The silver lining came when caregivers acknowledged my messages and actually took the effort to show up. Slowly, some caregivers shared photos of their children spontaneously, and sent words of appreciation and greetings that I never expected. My moment of glory came when one of the photos I took for a CaringSG event was featured in The Straits Times! 😊

I benefitted personally with the strong network in CaringSG. Last year, my son started displaying aggressive behaviour as he entered teenagehood. I was disheartened with my inability to handle his meltdowns and outbursts. This, to an extent, affected me at work too. Fellow caregiver Edward Chan and Dr Lim gave me contacts to seek professional help for him, and since then, he has improved and so has my quality of life.

As caregivers of PWDs, we have a lot to offer and to share in our experiences, especially to younger parents who are going through this journey and do not know what to do or where to seek support. 

To my fellow caregivers, instead of passively waiting for things to get better, step forward to give and you will be rewarded with the least expected.

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves” ~James Matthew Barrie

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MindChamps Allied Care Group Pledges 20% of Net Profits to CaringSG: Empowering Communities through Philanthropy

MindChamps Allied Care Group Pledges 20% of Net Profits to CaringSG: Empowering Communities through Philanthropy

MindChamps Allied Care Group’s Chairman, Mr. David Chiem (left) and CaringSG’s Board Chair Dr Lim Hong Huay (right)

In a significant step towards supporting special needs caregivers and their families, MindChamps Allied Care Group has announced it will donate 20% of the company’s net profits to CaringSG.

On 6 July 2023, CaringSG’s Board Chair Dr Lim Hong Huay and MindChamps Allied Care Group’s Chairman, Mr. David Chiem, signed a pledge that would span the next five years and aims to fund various programmes and initiatives undertaken by CaringSG to connect, enable and empower special needs caregivers.

By donating a significant portion of their profits, MindChamps Allied Care Group seeks to amplify the impact of CaringSG’s initiatives across various areas in caregivers’ lives and contribute to the development and implementation of programmes that address pressing caregiver issues and foster sustainable change.

MindChamps Allied Care Group’s Chairman David Chiem said, “From the very beginning MindChamps’ Social Charter has been to: ‘challenge and lift education standards globally and to provide education to those who don’t have the means.’ So, we are honoured to contribute to this vitally important cause.”

CaringSG’s Board Chair Dr Lim Hong Huay commented, “CaringSG is deeply grateful to Mr David Chiem and MindChamps for the generosity to our work. Many caregivers and their loved ones will benefit from this collaboration in the years to come. We look forward to more areas of collaboration in the years ahead.”

Read more about CaringSG’s services for caregivers here.

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Be the Writer of the Lives We Choose to Live By – By Diana Lim

be the writer of the lives we choose to live by - By Diana Lim

Diana is working at CaringSG as a volunteer management and events support executive. She has 2 lively boys who are currently studying at Pathlight School.

“Only we ourselves, can be the writer of the lives we choose to live by. As a special needs caregiver, I choose to embrace it with an open mind and a willing heart.”

When my elder son was born, the entire family was practically on cloud nine as he was the golden grandson, the precious one. Any hint of suspicion that this precious boy might be facing any developmental delays or falling out of “range” was brushed aside. However, as the issues persisted, the instinct to quickly start speech therapy, occupational therapy and customized educational program took over. Imagine doing all this while holding a big tummy with number 2 in tow…

I would never have imagined that I would be blessed with not one, but two special needs children!

For many of us who often questioned why our child is so different from other special needs kids, take it from me when I say that autism is indeed a broad spectrum. With the same home and school environment, same parenting style, the two brothers were polar opposites when it came to their tolerance level to schedule changes, learning preferences, cognitive abilities, and many others.

I’ve since then learned to unlearn the so-called correct ways of handling autistic challenges. To put down my expectations as a mother so deeply invested in their well-being. To let them be themselves so they can gradually carve their unique identity as special individuals in spite of their neurological impediments.  To have a willing heart, and an open mind.

These are some pointers that I can share as a caregiver, someone who has been blessed with good spousal and family support, practical and emotional resource pool, as well as a great network of people who simply understands.

  • Always look for the simple things to be thankful for despite how the day or ‘night’ has turned out to be.
  • Learn from others to see if their strategies are applicable to our children/dependents at their current stage. At other times, be ready to let go of things which do not fit into their psyche.
  • Find several support groups that can serve various needs – it can be like-minded friends, parents support groups, playdate groups, hangout groups, etc. And just like friendships, they may come and go as our seasons of life change. It’s okay; be open to forming new ones.
  • It’s okay to not be okay. It’s absolutely normal to feel vulnerable. By being able to rough out bad times and reach out to lifeline help available to us, we are in turn building our own emotional resilience. Imagine what a good real-life experience it would be when we share how we coped and learned from our past experiences with our special needs loved ones!

As special needs caregivers, conquering the day is not always about this amazing feat or that significant improvement. It is more often than not, being able to achieve some form of peace in the never-ending daily noise and action.

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Member Promotions

CaringSG Members: Enjoy Discounted Rates at Kaleidoscope Therapy Center from 1 August 2023

CaringSG Members: Enjoy Discounted Rates at Kaleidoscope Therapy Center from 1 August 2023

At CaringSG, our mission is to support and uplift special needs caregivers, creating an inclusive community where every individual thrives. We understand that providing the best care for our dependents with special needs can be financially demanding and hope to alleviate some of the financial burden faced by caregivers.

Hence to support caregivers with the cost of therapy and early intervention programmes, CaringSG is delighted to announce our newest partnership with Kaleidoscope Therapy Center. CaringSG members who enrol their children in any of the following services from 1 August 2023 onwards can enjoy discounted prices.

CaringSG Member Rates at Kaleidoscope Therapy Center from 1 August 2023

Services

Discounted Price for CaringSG Members (Excluding GST)

Regular Price (Excluding GST)

1.    Speech and Language Therapy

$152 – $192 per hour*

$190 – $240 per hour*

2.    Occupational Therapy

3.    Physiotherapy

4.    Early Intervention Programme

$1,800 – $3,150 per month^

$2,000 – $3,500 per month^

*Prices vary depending on the seniority of the therapist and the timing of therapy sessions (This promotion is only for weekday rates. Please contact Kaleidoscope for more information)

^Kaleidoscope Therapy Center’s Early Intervention Programme, called the Ready Let’s Go! Programme is offered as a 2, 3, and 5 days-a-week programme.

Kaleidoscope Therapy Center is a GST registered company and prevailing GST will be applicable to the above-mentioned prices.

Promotion last updated on the 26 January 2024.

 To enjoy this discount:

  1. Make an appointment with Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre at kaleidoscope.com.sg/contact-us/
  2. To access your membership status on CaringSG, access caring.sg and click on “Login”
  3. Present your CaringSG caregiver membership profile to the staff who will verify your membership status

About CaringSG Membership

CaringSG members can tap on Project 3i services – CAREconnect, CAREbuddy and CAREwell.

Members can enjoy member discounts at our partner merchants. Read more at caring.sg/category/member-promotions/

Sign up to become a CaringSG member at www.caring.sg/subscription

About Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope is a private therapy centre in Singapore which has served over 10,000 families over the past 23 years. Its therapists have over 350 years of combined clinical experience within the team, with expertise covering a wide variety of developmental needs. Learn more about its services at www.kaleidoscope.com.sg

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“We are not alone” – One family’s experience with the CAREwell Community Support Programme

“We are not alone” – One family’s experience with the CAREwell Community Support Programme

CAREwell
The Teys (from left): Rachel (7 years old), Mrs Tey, Mr Tey, and Ryan (13 years old)

This article was contributed by the Teys and the CaringSG CAREwell team.

The Teys

When our CaringSG CAREwell Keyworker, Lee Xiuhua, first met the Teys at their home, they were overwhelmed with their son’s, Ryan’s, behaviour and worried about his future.

“Ryan was climbing all over his mum, he tried to burn food with a lighter, he drank water from my water bottle and kept trying to snatch my pen, among other behaviours. I could see that Mrs Tey was at a loss as to how to manage his behaviour,” says Xiuhua.

Mrs Tey was a foreigner at that time. Not only did she feel isolated in Singapore, she also did not feel confident enough to navigate the healthcare system nor engage with Ryan’s teachers confidently. Ryan, 13, has autism, and was attending Grace Orchard School (GOS) but Mrs Tey was unsure as to how much she could lean on the school for professional support and how to gain access to it.

At that time, Mr and Mrs Tey were also in a dilemma as to what to do for the future. Should they live in Vietnam or Singapore? Ryan appeared to fare better in Vietnam but Mr Tey worked here in Singapore. The Teys also preferred their younger daughter, who is seven years old, to be educated here.

Mr and Mrs Tey’s relationship was also a little strained as Mr Tey as the sole breadwinner, was stressed about the high cost of hiring private psychological support for his son, and Mrs Tey felt that she was unable to manage Ryan who was growing bigger and stronger every day, especially when he became aggressive and hit back at her.

By Caregivers, For Caregivers

As a caregiver herself, Xiuhua was able to deeply connect with the Teys and understand their struggles. They felt that they were not alone in their journey of caregiving.

One particular concern shared was Ryan’s persistent negative texting to Mr Tey. Ryan expressed he is a bad student and always disappointed his teachers or parents. Xiuhua explored Ryan’s texting habit and checked with GOS’s psychologist to find out what the underlying reasons could be.

After some discussion, it was related to Ryan’s developing self-awareness that he had let down his teachers or parents when he was unable to meet their expectations. Ryan would ruminate on the negative aspects of his behaviours and wander around the neighbourhood roads alone which posed a safety concern. This was Ryan’s way of indirectly seeking his father’s approval, affirmation, and unconditional love.

With this in mind, Mr Tey was more aware of Ryan’s emotional needs and connected with him by replying to his texts with words of affirmation and love. This has helped reduce Ryan’s negative texting, habit of wandering the streets, and improved their father-son bond tremendously.

“(We) often find it comforting to share our journey with someone who understands how tough caregiving can get…the support getting from CAREwell help the parents especially cope with our emotions and experiences and show us that we are not alone.” – Mr Tey, father of 13-year-old Ryan

Professional Care and Guidance

After doing a thorough needs analysis, Xiuhua was able to better understand the Teys’ daily struggles, existing strengths, and dreams for the future. She then guided the couple to develop a few key functional goals which they could immediately work on together.

1. Expanding and deepening the Teys’ ecological system of support

A top priority was to get Ryan’s behaviour under control at home. To this end, Xiuhua worked quickly to put the appropriate services in place, expanding and deepening the Teys ecological support system.

For instance, she guided them on how they could obtain a subsidized psychiatrist’s appointment to assess Ryan for his impulsive and aggressive behaviour. She also connected the Teys to several parent support groups and shared online resources with them to improve their mental and emotional well-being.

2. Empowering Caregivers to optimise available community resources

A monumental shift, however, would take place at multiple levels when a joint home visit was made with Grace Orchard School whose team consisted of a Psychologist, Social Worker, and Ryan’s Form Teacher.

Firstly, with Xiuhua’s encouragement and support, Mrs Tey felt empowered to share candidly about Ryan’s behaviour at home which was greatly at odds with how he was behaving in school. This was a big step for Mrs Tey who previously felt self-conscious of her English language proficiency and lacked the confidence to engage closely with school professionals.

Secondly, the team from GOS listened carefully and shared behavioural management strategies with the Teys that were tailored to Ryan’s needs. Both Mr and Mrs Tey felt heard and well supported emotionally and professionally during this joint visit. Empowering the Teys and facilitating the joint home visit enabled the optimization of resources that were previously available but untapped on.

Thirdly, following the joint visit, the Teys felt confident enough to implement some of these strategies at home. For example, in the past, Mr Tey would pamper Ryan and give in to his demands, but this made things hard for Mrs Tey who could not then enforce boundaries with a growing teenager who could easily overpower her. Nowadays, Mr and Mrs Tey agree on and enforce boundaries as a team. “This way, Ryan knows that he can’t outplay his parents,” Xiuhua explains.

Today, the family is happier and feels equipped with the appropriate strategies and support in place. That has made a lot of difference to the family environment at home and Mrs Tey no longer fears for her safety nor is overwhelmed by Ryan’s care. In fact, she is so inspired by the service she has received that she shared that she would like to train to become an EIPIC special needs teacher in the future!

“Everyone gets knocked down sometimes; only people like you (Xiuhua) get us back up again and keep going. Absolutely excellent in all ways. The care was exemplary. My family really appreciated the support and assistance given to my son, your kind and caring always very helpful to parents who seem to go the extra mile for their children in need. Everything would be better if more people were like you. A big thank you to all the staff of CAREwell team. [sic]” – Mr Tey on the support his family received from our Keyworker, Xiuhua.

From left: Caregiver Mrs Tey Phan Thu and CaringSG CAREwell Keyworker Lee Xiuhua

Xiuhua’s reflection

It has been an honour and privilege to journey with the Tey family as their assigned keyworker. Getting to know both Mr and Mrs Tey and hear their story shared so openly, encouraged me to draw out the resilience I saw in them and give them the encouragement they needed to continue their caregiving journey.

Their humble self-reflections, concern and love for Ryan was evident at each touch point and interaction. The Teys committed to the 6 touch points as planned and agreed goals could be worked on in a timely and efficient manner. I enjoyed witnessing the beautiful bond they had with Ryan and am also inspired in return by how they have grown closer during the past 6 months.

Working with families often require trust and open communication which was evident while working with the Teys and for that, I am thankful they put their trust in me to journey with them in the CAREwell Community Support programme.

I was also encouraged by Ryan’s SPED school (GOS) for the open collaboration to hold the joint home visit. Having a conducive and caring special needs school environment did help Ryan develop well and address the parents’ concern promptly. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and professionalism of GOS team. Kudos to all professionals working tirelessly in the special education sector!

What is the CAREwell Community Support Programme?

The CAREwell Community Support (CWCS) Programme is a six-month programme consisting of at least six touch points. Each family is supported by a Keyworker who is typically a trained professional in social work, healthcare, special needs, or other related professions.

Keyworkers support families by providing transdisciplinary and multi-layered services which may include but are not limited to therapeutic and informational counselling, family support plan development and service coordination, navigation, and integration of cross sectoral services.

Applicants to CWCS are screened for suitability before being enrolled into the programme. For more information, please visit https://caring.sg/CAREwell/

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