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Forum Reply: Support available to get domestic help trained for caregiving needs

We refer to the letters by Yee Kiat Tan (Have separate work permits for maids hired for eldercare, 21 Aug); Tay Khoon Beng (Many benefits to introducing caregiver work pass for domestic helpers, 30 Aug); and Fast, or the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Many programmes to train domestic workers hired to care for seniors, 7 Sep) on migrant domestic workers (MDWs) who provide caregiving services for households.

Yee and Tay suggested creating a new work pass category for such caregivers, with a defined scope of allowable tasks and the type of training required. We agree it is important for MDWs to have the relevant skills to perform their jobs. However, as different households have different needs, employers are best placed to determine the skills that their MDWs need to perform caregiving and other domestic tasks.

Work passes are not categorised by specific occupations, job scopes or training requirements. Creating a dedicated work pass for MDWs for a caregiving role could result in rigidity on their deployment within the employer’s household.

Seniors with disabilities and mental health conditions may require specialised care that is beyond the eldercare skills of MDWs in general. Should hiring an MDW be preferred, the employer should define the required roles clearly and early, as well as ensure the MDW is trained adequately.

There are over 180 courses covering a range of caregiving skills, depending on the mobility and condition of the care recipient. Employers seeking caregiver training courses can approach the Agency for Integrated Care or community partners such as Fast for more information. Employers can also tap the Caregivers Training Grant to defray eldercare training costs, where eligible.

We encourage MDWs and employers to discuss their needs and expectations early to achieve amicable arrangements. The Government will also continually improve the range of home-based support to meet our seniors’ caregiving needs.


Doris Kuek

Director, Foreign Manpower Management Policy

Workplace Policy and Strategy Division


Have separate work permits for maids hired for eldercare, 21 Aug 2023, The Straits Times

I refer to the article “Nearly half of foreign domestic workers lack confidence or skill to meet seniors’ healthcare needs: Study” (Aug 17).

There is now only one work permit scheme for migrant domestic workers (MDWs). Yet, under this scheme, MDWs are hired for different roles. There are those hired to assist with household chores, but others are hired primarily to assist with eldercare. 

One wonders if there are MDWs who come to Singapore expecting to do household chores but are tasked with eldercare instead. 

Those tasked with eldercare require skills that are far more specialised than those needed for household chores.

Creating a separate category at the work permit level would make for clarity, allowing the MDWs to know what to expect. 

Those in the new category can also be trained if they are hired without the necessary experience.
Having such a scheme would create an ecosystem of MDWs who are trained in eldercare and who are willing to work in this area. 

It is necessary to grow this pool of workers as Singapore ages.  

Yee Kiat Tan   

Many benefits to introducing caregiver work pass for domestic helpers, 30 Aug 2023, The Straits Times

As a director of an employment agency, I support the idea of introducing a caregiver work pass for foreign domestic helpers in Singapore (Have separate work permits for maids hired for eldercare, Aug 21).

Migrant domestic workers under the current work-permit scheme undertake a wide range of roles, from assisting with household chores to providing specialised eldercare. However, this diversity of roles can lead to uncertainties for both workers and employers.

Introducing a dedicated caregiver work-pass category would bring much-needed clarity and alignment of expectations for everyone involved.

Caregiving is complex and varies greatly, depending on the patients’ needs. Beyond eldercare, caregiving also encompasses roles related to infants and children with specific requirements. The authorities can acknowledge these distinctions by establishing a caregiver work pass. This will pave the way for frameworks to certify the caregiving skills of a domestic helper.

One of the immediate key benefits of a caregiver work pass is that employment agencies can streamline appropriate training requirements. With clearly defined roles, it becomes easier to tailor training programmes and ensure domestic helpers are adequately prepared for their jobs.

Moreover, having a separate work pass allows domestic helpers to express their job preferences more clearly, enabling employers to make informed decisions when selecting a suitable helper. This can contribute significantly to smoother transitions and mutual understanding between employers and domestic helpers, especially when circumstances change at home.

A caregiver work pass is a progressive step and aligns with the evolving caregiving landscape. This move would foster better-informed choices, elevate the standard of care provided to vulnerable individuals, and empower helpers with specialised training.

Tay Khoon Beng

Many programmes available to train domestic workers hired to care for seniors, 7 Sep 2023, The Straits Times

The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) shares the concerns raised in the SingHealth Polyclinics’ study (Nearly half of foreign domestic workers lack confidence or skill to meet seniors’ healthcare needs: Study, 17 Aug).

Fast also supports Tan Yee Kiat’s view that MDWs require proper training when tasked with eldercare (Have separate work permits for maids hired for eldercare, 21 Aug).

Our ageing population necessitates the employment of more MDWs who are properly trained in eldercare. Given proper training, and equipped with the right mindset, skill sets, support and resource network, MDWs are a viable option in enabling the elderly to age in place.

Moreover, MDWs caring for seniors need to focus on caregiving rather than concurrently juggling household chores. A different set of expectations and standards for eldercare, as compared with basic housekeeping, is thus necessary. Prospective and existing employers and their MDWs should maintain open communication on work tasks and align expectations on the role of caregiver for seniors.

Some elderly people have mobility issues and are on long-term medication for chronic conditions, but still live an independent life. MDWs employed to care for them need basic eldercare training in, for example, preventing falls, diet control, handling wheelchairs and administering medication.

For those who require significant support in activities of daily living or who have dementia, the caregiver needs more comprehensive training to perform tasks such as monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, feeding, preventing bed sores, managing hygiene, and more.

There are many not-for-profit organisations including Fast that offer basic and comprehensive eldercare programmes for MDWs. We urge employment agencies and employers to enrol the MDWs in such programmes.

It is in the interest of households to provide the necessary training and support for MDWs who are caregivers, as well as managing their overall workload. Not being able to perform the role because of a lack of skill sets and right attitude will result in stress for the caregiver and the family.

MDWs who are deployed to perform caregiving tasks that they are unsure of, or are uncomfortable with, should inform their employers and request additional training or support. MDWs may also approach Fast or their employment agencies for assistance.

Lim Fang Sung
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training