See, my fatty boy enjoying his 1st wedding dinner where he didn’t get to eat anything.
Just caught up with some friends at a wedding dinner the other night and they were complaining that I am working too hard. (They can never catch me for dinners or any social meetups) Reminded me that I should remember to take a break and not erm, die too young. (or try at least.) They do not understand why am I putting so much on my plate. Why would someone with a proper business go around taking on commercial photo projects, write blogs, publishing book and all. (Oh, that is another story for another time. But more details coming soon I promise!)
The answer should probably be because I want to become rich. Why? (Why not? I mean besides the fact that with money you can buy a lot of shoes and food.)
I guess this hit me hard the moment I became a dad and also when I start to think about retirement. (I know I’m in my 30s but it’s really never too early.) Our cost of living is getting higher by the day and also one of the biggest fears I’ve – healthcare costs.
My grandmother had 8 kids. So technically you would have 8 kids to look after you and pay for your medical or what nots after your retirement. My mum has 3 kids. So generally if anyone of us couldn’t bring my mum to any medical appointment, the other 1 would step in. We always try to rotate our timetable around to best accompany her for any medical appointment. But take a look at the current situation where most families only have one child. It would be so taxing in terms of both money and time when it comes to taking care of the elderly in another 30-40 yrs time isn’t it?
My son would probably not able to date a girl properly or travel around for work if I’m around, sick and pretty much a burden to him. As much as if he is filial enough to give up on those things to look after me, it would still suck for me to know that I’m in his way of progression isn’t it? How can my son be successful in his career if all he does is come home to look after his old man after work?
Last week, I attended a job shadowing session by NTUC Health. To be honest, I didn't even know that NTUC Health provides home personal care service. (Erm, NTUC Health ah. Not FairPrice. Don’t go to the supermarket counter and ask for this hor. NTUC Health is basically a social enterprise under NTUC Enterprises. There are also NTUC Foodfare, NTUC First Campus, Income etc etc. Same same but different lah. Basically their aims are all the same – to fulfil social needs that are not being met or under-served, and to help Singaporeans manage cost of living better.)
Stepping into the client’s house gave me a very strong sense of nostalgia. It’s as if I’m back at my late grandmother’s place. A simple HDB flat in the heartlands.
Along with the Senior Care Associate, Lee Geok Bee and my digital GirlBoss, Flora, we visited Mdm See Lwee who is in her 90s.
Flora picking up some tips from Geok Bee.
You wouldn’t believe Mdm Swee is in her 90s seriously. No doubt my grandmother lived till she was 102 but my grandmother was not as mobile and active in her 90s. Mdm Swee is very active and not at all awkward meeting us even when I was holding my camera and shooting her most of the time. She just went on talking to us with her strong voice.
Although it was just two hours of shadowing Geok Bee as she went about doing her work, I learnt quite a lot. Not just about this home personal care service, I also picked up some useful tips on effective communications with the elderly as well as how to take care of older folks.
Geok Bee was so patient with Mdm Swee and we could see how Mdm Swee was responding well to her. Watching them interact from behind my camera,the scene didn't feel like a healthcare worker helping her client. Instead, it felt like Geok Bee was visiting a good friend. They chatted about the old lady’s daily life, and Geok Bee would engage her in different topics while trying to convince her to do her workout. Geok Bee showed how patient she was by reminding her client what pills to eat and what not to eat.
Although she didn’t say it, it was obvious Geok Bee takes her job of a healthcare professional seriously. There was no big statement from her about wanting to save the world by helping one senior citizen at a time. She also didn’t feed us any PR messages. But the warmth and care she showed when spending time with Mdm Swee was enough to convince us how sincere she was.
Geok Bee told us this is a part-time job. She tries not to commit more than a certain number of hours each day, and she plans her work schedule according to her own family's time. It works out well this way. She can spend time with her loved ones, and still help others in her free time. Good work-life balance!
During such two-hour sessions, her work includes doing mentally stimulating activities with her clients (for seniors with dementia), physical maintenance exercises, grocery shopping, light housekeeping, meal preparation and even personal hygiene (shower or bed bath). And she provides companionship too, which is important to many lonely folks. Other than clients with regular schedules, Geok Bee also provides respite care for other clients during the caregiver’s day off.
The ladies doing some physical maintenance exercise together.
By now you must be wondering about the cost of this home personal care service. Given the amount of work that the Home Care Associate has to do, you might imagine very high costs. A quick search on the website shows that rates start from $19 each hour! Not too bad lah. Such initiative surely can help people who are worried about the rising cost of living. (erm, like myself. LOL)
I am quite impressed by this program. Not only does it answer one of our biggest problems – the high cost of taking care of our ageing population – it also tackles the problem of not enough local healthcare workers by tapping into the part-time workforce. This is a good option especially for women who left their jobs earlier and now want to work part-time since their children are older.
To be honest, I never spent time to think about all these NTUC social enterprises before this. At most I know FairPrice, Income and maybe FoodFare (because Food. LOL) . But now that I think of it, they also have NTUC Health and My First Campus. Looks like they want to cover basic needs throughout our lifecycle, especially areas we worry the most - health and healthcare costs, ageing concerns and cost of living.
Did you know of the rice crisis in 2008 and 2011 where rice prices doubled? Some bad retailers raised prices really high. But because FairPrice is a major importer, and it stockpiles three months' supply of rice, it was able to moderate prices.
When I got home after the job shadowing session, I also went online to kaypo a bit to see where NTUC Health’s rates stand. Well, it is really the most affordable one out of the five or six that I checked. (Before I got distracted with watching Orange is the new black.)
I’m not saying that because we have such programs in place so I’m going to slack my life away. But it is always good to know there’s something to fall back on if things fail, isn’t it? We can only plan so much in our life. Like the Chinese always say - 人算不如天算