Discounted health screenings for caregivers

Discounted health screenings for caregivers

People caring for elderly parents may regularly take them to the hospital - yet never have a check-up done for themselves.

To help such caregivers take care of themselves, the Silver Caregivers Cooperative (SCCL) is offering discounted health screenings for its members through its medical partners.

These include basic health screenings in groups and more comprehensive ones at the caregivers' own homes.

SCCL has offered a few such screenings this year, and will do so on a larger scale after securing a funding grant from the Singapore National Cooperative Federation last month.

The grant will help it take such programmes further, hold more activities, and spread the word about its existence, according to SCCL chairman and SIM University associate professor Kalyani Mehta.

It is also an endorsement that helping caregivers "is an important social mission, in the context of Singapore's ageing population", she said.

The cooperative was incorporated in 2013 to "care for caregivers" by providing a support network and source of information, according to its assistant treasurer, Ms Audrey Lee.

Its members include former and current caregivers, as well as people who expect to become caregivers - for example, for their aged parents.

The cooperative's other plans include holding more talks, seminars and workshops. These could be on medical issues caregivers might face, such as back strain, and lifestyle topics like baking or yoga.

"We want to provide stress relief," said Ms Lee. "We want to emphasise that as a caregiver, you need to take care of yourself, which will also translate to better care for the care recipients."

On July 10, SCCL will hold a seminar at SIM University which will look at ways to reach out to caregivers, including online. On July 12, it will have a booth at a community event held by Indian ethnic societies at the Singapore Swimming Club. "We would like to contact caregivers who might not usually attend other community events," said Prof Mehta, adding that in multi-generational families, caregiving often falls on daughters-in-law.

In the longer term, SCCL aims to provide respite care that will see former caregivers take over temporarily from current ones to give them a break. It now has about 25 members and hopes to add 80 to 100 more over the next year. Membership starts from a one-off payment of $50 for one share.

On why it operates as a cooperative rather than as a corporate or voluntary welfare organisation, Prof Mehta said: "A community of caregivers is perhaps the most effective. Caregiving is a journey, and sometimes you feel very alone. With a community, you won't be."

This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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