Friday, March 9, 2012

Rest days for maids, what about fulltime caregivers?  An open letter sent to Govt. ministers that include Deputy Prime Minister Tharman, Health Minister Gan Kim Young & a few others

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

-Mother Teresa-
Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin announced in Parliament on 5 March 2012 that from January next year, all employers must give their foreign domestic workers (FDWs) a rest day every week.

It is encouraging that the welfare of our foreign maids has been looked into as it is impossible to work seven days a week without a break.

Even machines that work non-stop will break down.

But what about full-time caregivers who are citizens of this land looking after their sick loved ones suffering from chronic illnesses 24/7?  Don't they also require days off.

Caregiving, in many cases is a full-time job. Although looking after a loved one suffering from chronic illness – be in mental or physical can be very satisfying and rewarding, the work is never easy, and many caregivers experience sadness, depression, or anger.

Caregivers often feel frustrated and lonely because a large part of their social life is affected.

Research  has shown that  that caregivers who do not take a break:

·        Are more likely to be have symptoms of depression or anxiety

·        Are more likely to have a long-term medical problem, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis

·        Have higher levels of stress hormones

·        Spend more days sick with an infectious disease

·        Have a weaker immune response to the influenza, or flu, vaccine

·        Have slower wound healing

·        Have higher levels of obesity

·        May be at higher risk for mental decline, including problems with memory and paying attention

These symptoms clearly indicate that over a period of time, caregivers will find their own physical and mental health breaking down.  Many of them are exhausted when they go off to bed. When this happens caregivers are bound to suffer burnout.

If steps have been taken to ensure that foreigners are treated well, why is it that our very own citizens, who are prepared to undertake the unenviable task of caregiving, cannot have a single rest day throughout the year?


I proposed to the govt to provide respite care for caregivers. I get the usual standard civil service reply from the Ministry of Manpower(MOM).
Reply from the Ministry of Manpower- received today, 13th March 2012:
Dear Mr Raymond,
We refer to your email of 9 March 2012.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us to share your views. Indeed, we do understand that caregiving obligations can be taxing, especially when a loved one has taken ill. For individuals who are employed as caregivers, they would be covered by employment laws governed by Ministry of Manpower. In the situation you have described where the caregiver is discharging caregiving obligations full-time but not as an employee, we would encourage such individuals to approach the Centre for Enabled Living (CEL) to explore possibilities of assistance according to individual needs. For more information on CEL, you may wish to refer to their website at
Thank you,
Yours sincerely,
Nicholas QUEK (Mr)
Head, Quality Service Management

Customer Responsiveness Department . Ministry of Manpower . Tel 1800-538-6930 . Email

And so, I have responded to day, as follows:
Dear Mr Quek & Ministers,
I beg to defer. CEL cannot help in this area. I’ve tried so many times (: What I’m asking for is some respite. You can go visit my blog to see what I written/have proposed. The... CEL & MCYS does not even want to recognize that mental illness is indeed a disability- a hidden disability. The Govt. has got to look into this area, and render us the support that we so badly need. Plain & simple!

Read this:

and finally this:


It is futile for citizens to put up proposals and everything is thrown out, simple because no one wants to do a little extra work.
Raymond Anthony Fernando

1 comment:

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