Saturday, October 17, 2015

Letter to ST’s Life! Provide caregivers with mentors: Read Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to the press

My letter to The Straits Times Life Section on the above topic is published today, Saturday 17th October 2015 (Page D9 of the Life Section).  

I refer to the story, Struggles Of ageing caregivers (Life, Oct 11).

Being a full-time caregiver to a loved suffering from a chronic illness is no easy feat for he requires care 24/7.

As a former caregiver for 40 years, I relate to the challenges faced by caregivers.

While the professionals can offer support, advice and training, our pool of caregivers can benefit immensely with a mentor who not only has a wealth of experience in caregiving, but is also able to motivate and give hope to them.

I propose that the Government implement a paid mentor caregiver scheme, either on a part-time or full-time basis that allows experienced caregivers to have job opportunities, and at the same time, be accorded the recognition that they deserve.

This scheme which can be part of a caregiver support programme will provide the mentees with an outlet to voice their concerns and a useful resource to gain caregiving insights.


Raymond Anthony Fernando

Saturday, October 10, 2015

MY VIEWS: Be mindful that relationships are fragile

I am deeply saddened that a beautiful young Irish lady, Cathriona White, former girlfriend of Hollywood actor Jim Carrey has lost her life is an apparent suicide (Jim Carrey’s ex-girlfriend found dead in suspected suicide, Life!, Oct 1.)
Carrey whose two marriages failed must be devastated that this tragedy has taken place. Strangely enough this is a man who makes the world laugh through his films, but who must surely be crying on the inside.
Somebody once said:  “Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a tear drop.”  And this is sometimes the case when relationships do not work out well.
It is important for parents to be involved when their children embark on the love journey.  The couple as well as their parents must bear in mind that all relationships require hard work if they are to survive the trials and tribulations of modern day life.  Relationships, like life is often fragile and complicated. 
Taking into account that during the love journey the road ahead may not be a smooth one with bumps and pitfalls along the way, it is vital for parents to always be involved when their children get involved in a relationship and must get to know the person whom their child is dating, keeping the communication lines open at all times.   Confiding in a trusted friend about a relationship can also help save a life.
If the parents observe any sign that their child is deeply troubled, going into isolation and loses interests in daily living, they need to quickly get the couple to talk openly about any problems that are coming on-stream.  To this end, it is just as important to learn about depression and relationship issues so that professional help can be summoned when it is needed.
Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, October 5, 2015

Letter to The New Paper: DIFFICULT NEIGHBOUR : Offender could have mental issues

My letter to The New Paper on the above subject appears today –Monday 5th October 2015 on page 10

It must be a nightmare for Madam Yeo Choon Lan, having to put up with a neighbour who, for months, has been throwing faeces from a window in their block (“It’s so gross!”, (The New Paper, Sept 28).

A healthy and clean environment is crucial to make our homes the sanctuary that we need to unwind after a hard day’s work or studying in school. 

Having to close up her kitchen windows will worsen the living environment and could adversely affect the health of Madam Yeo and her neighbours. 

At first glance, it appears that the offender is polluting the environment and causing harassment in the neighbourhood.  But we have to ask ourselves these questions:  Would anyone in the correct frame of mind throw faeces out of the window for as long as four months – at times thrice a day?  Could one or more of the residents be struggling with untreated mental health issues?

Both the National Environment Agency and the Housing and Development Board should be empowered to get the assistance of the Community Psychiatry Department of the Institute of Mental Health to find out if there are any psychological issues that are causing someone to behave in this manner.



 With our Government leaders calling for its citizens to look out for one another, it is imperative that active citizenry becomes part and parcel of our lives.  To this end, I propose that all government agencies scan the newspapers everyday to look out for any uncivic behaviour that threatens either the environment or the well-being of the residents in the heartlands.  Once social cohesion or an unhealthy environment is threatened, the authorities concerned and its partners must be alerted so that the problems can be nipped in the bud.  Agencies that read such reports should step forward willingly to help rather than being directed to do so.  Sometimes, it is necessary to be a Kaypoh (Busybody) to resolve issues. We should never turn a blind eye to those who need a helping hand.  I would like to see the Singapore Spirit come alive in this context.

And now that PM Lee has appointed Coordinating Ministers to oversee the various ministries, I hope such social problems will become a thing of the past. At the tail end, the Government has to be open to learning from people who have walked the journey and who are willing to volunteer their services.  Education on mental illness must be an on-going relentless effort to help the marginalised in our society. That’s what makes for an inclusive society!