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Joint initiative to train low-income women for eldercare sector

This was the highlight of a half-day workshop by social enterprise Etch Empathy at the HMI Institute of Health Sciences, with the aim of encouraging empathy for those in their silver years.

Joint initiative to train low-income women for eldercare sector

Madam Wendy Teo adjusting her ear mufflers at the workshop, where she & her fellow participants donned a heavy vest, glasses and mufflers to simulate old age.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Madam Wendy Teo Eng Yam, 42, felt 30 years older yesterday, thanks to an ageing simulation suit that restricts movement, vision and hearing to mimic the physical challenges faced by the elderly.

This was the highlight of a half-day workshop by social enterprise Etch Empathy at the HMI Institute of Health Sciences, with the aim of encouraging empathy for those in their silver years.

It was part of the Eldercare Program by voluntary welfare organisation Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT) and the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware).

Launched in December with support from bank JPMorgan, the career preparation scheme aims to help 100 women from families earning less than $400 per capita a month to find suitable employment in the eldercare sector.

Madam Teo, who will start work as a cook, was among the 11 beneficiaries of the workshop who were hoping to gain practical skills to kick-start careers as caregivers.

"The workshop made me see the ways elderly people can be limited by physical constraints. It also shows how important eldercare skills will be in the future," she said.

The programme boasts a dynamic curriculum that gives beneficiaries workforce training under iCare Life and job placements with partners such as NTUC Health and Jaga Me.

The joint initiative is the first programme in South-east Asia that trains underprivileged women to enter the eldercare sector.

DOT founder and executive director Carrie Tan, 35, said many women in the programme have experience with caregiving in their own lives.

"We want to help women translate their experience into professional skills to give them additional income and financial security when they grow older," she said.

Ms Tan also highlighted the fact that about half of the 15 women in the programme are single mothers.

Another beneficiary, Madam Nur Fadzelah Sadullah, was part of a separate initiative by DOT last year, which helped her find a job with eldercare start-up Homage as a freelance caregiver.

The 28-year-old said she hopes the Eldercare Program will equip her with skills to take care of her aged parents while enhancing her employability."Through the programme, I hope to pick up some experience and move into full-time caregiving so I can better support my family and my daughter," she said.

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