As a caregiver to several immediate relatives, past and present, I fully appreciate and support the suggestion to allow the use of Medisave to pay for nursing home charges (Allow use of Medisave to pay nursing home charges; Sept 10, 2018, The Straits Times).
Many Singaporeans who have and will become caregivers suffer burnout as it is very draining to look after a loved one with chronic conditions, be it physical or mental. Some will lose key social support, become isolated and lose a monthly income when they have to take on the unenviable task of caregiving.
Many caregivers will not feel comfortable to place their sick loved ones in a nursing homes as they will become guilt-ridden, feeling that they are abandoning them. So, they opt to hire a helper, but that will place the family caregivers in much anxiety as they would find it difficult to pay for the helper’s salary.
Faced with this dilemma, some may fall into depression and then there is just too much problems for everyone in the household to manage and cope with. We should prevent this from happening– more so when Singapore facing a rapid ageing population.
To this end, I propose that the authorities consider opening a Medisave account to allow such caregivers to pay the helper’s salary through this special scheme so long as there are sufficient funds to meet the caregiver’s current and future medical needs.
Yet another way to support caregivers is to provide more and better subsidies for both residents in nursing homes and for hiring of helpers.
Such support measures will help to a large extent to strengthen filial piety and family bonding. Moreover, government needs to rally around our ageing population and those with special needs
Raymond Anthony Fernando