When loved ones are struck by serious illnesses and opt for home care, immense pressure falls on informal caregivers, be they spouses, children or domestic helpers.
Although many caregivers hope to give their loved ones the best of care, the demands on them can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining.
Caregiving at what expense?
Caregivers often make sacrifices of time and energy to perform an unending list of seemingly thankless tasks such as feeding, bathing, toilet assistance, dressing, walking, coordinating medical appointments and managing the patient’s finances. Their stress may be compounded by difficult or uncooperative care recipients and by disrupted schedules. If the severity of illness increases, so do the care requirements.
Burnout results when caregivers are unable to cope with the daily grind of caregiving and it takes a toll on their own health or finances.
Supporting and equipping caregivers
Caregivers need different types of support to cater to the changing needs and challenges posed by their loved ones. That is why we have developed MWS Circles of Caregiver Support at the family, community and residential home arenas.
- At the family level
MWS Home Care and MWS Home Hospice have been set up to provide training and equip caregivers with the skills to manage patients at home. Our nursing staff provide guidance on managing symptoms of illnesses through regular home visitations and a 24-hour hotline. Over time, as caregivers grow in confidence and competency, the nursing team may reduce the frequency of their home visits. The number of hospital visits may also be reduced. In the event of the patients’ demise, MWS Home Hospice continues to help caregivers with bereavement needs. For caregivers experiencing burnout and stress, our Family Service Centres provide support through referrals to community services and resources as well as to institutions such as the Institute of Mental Health.
- At the community level
To provide respite to caregivers, MWS Senior Activity Centres help seniors with day-to-day tasks such as the reading of mail or the running important errands, and keep them physically and mentally active through exercise and activities. Activities such as family bonding events also help strengthen connections between caregivers and loved ones.
- At the residential home level
Caregivers who need respite may consider placing their loved ones in an MWS nursing home, such as MWS Nursing Home – Yew Tee or MWS Bethany Nursing Home – Choa Chu Kang, for up to one month. These homes are staffed with professionals who provide nursing and medical care, allied health care and rehabilitative therapy. The homes also offer a variety of activities, such as games and outings, to engage the residents meaningfully every day. Counselling provides emotional and psychosocial support.
Doing more for caregivers
MWS aims to empower caregivers even more in the year ahead by filling gaps outside office hours and home-based respite care during weekends, providing stronger financial support for caregivers, and setting up caregiver support groups.
By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team
Infographic courtesy of Methodist Welfare Services