CFS has been conducting basic eldercare training (Caregivers Training) to equip caregivers with relevant concepts of care and skills to take care of their elderly loved ones. Since 2015, CFS has conducted over 30 classes of caregivers training to more than 140 participants. Participants are either local informal caregivers or foreign domestic workers. A post training evaluation research was conducted to assess the effectiveness of it’s training on the local caregivers and to understand from them, any additional areas of caregiving concerns that can be incorporated into the existing training programme.
Based on CFS’s internal database record, 41 local caregivers participated in CFS caregivers training from Dec 2015 to Jan 2017. An email invitation was sent to these 41 local participants, with link to an online survey.
This evaluation research involves an online survey followed by a phone survey for those who did not respond to the online version. The survey has 7 questions. Care was taken to make the survey short and the questions easily answerable (using Yes or No questions and open ended questions) considering the busy time schedule of caregivers. The nature of voluntary participation in this survey was highlighted, confidentiality assured and consent obtained from each surveyed respondent. At least 3 phone attempts were made at different times of the day to each uncontactable participant before terminating the survey.
Online survey responds were recorded automatically upon respondent’s online submission. Phone survey responses were documented on papers and subsequently typed written onto the online survey, in order to maintain a consolidated database for all the received responses.
Responses to open ended questions were analysed and coded for common themes.
Based on CFS caregivers training’s participants database, a profiling of the participants was made.
Figure 1 & 1.1: Care Recipient’s age and gender profile
A majority (73%) of the care recipients are 80 years old and above with oldest care recipient age 97 years old, in the year the caregiver attended the training. The proportion of female care recipients is high, with 68% female and only 32% male. This resonates to our understanding of the higher female’s life expectancy and the feminisation of ageing in Singapore’s ageing landscape (Ministry of social and family development, n.d.).
Figure 2 & 2.1: Caregiver’s age and gender profile
Participants of CFS caregivers training has a diverse aged range with the youngest aged 40 and the oldest aged 68 when they attended CFS’s caregivers training. More than half (59%) of the caregivers are in the middle age range of 50 to 59. With Singapore’s retirement age of 62 and reemployment age of 67, caregiving can be a stress factor as most caregivers juggle with work, family and caregiving burden. It is noted that some (12%) caregivers of older people are themselves elderly (above 65 years old). High proportion of the participants are female. This profile matches the findings of a local survey (Chan, Ostbye, Malhotra, & Hu, 2014) done on informal caregiving for older adults where a higher percentage of care recipients and caregivers are female. This again reflected the feminization of ageing in Singapore and may suggest a higher caregiver stress in female.
Figure 3: Caregivers relationship to Care recipients
A large (68%) percentage of the participants are daughters to the care recipients, followed by daughter in law. Considering that there may be spouses taking care of their partners actively but due to personal reasons eg literacy level, old age etc, they may not attend CFS’s caregivers training. Hence, it should be highlighted that this may not be reflective of the actual active caregiver’s profile.
Total 28 (6 online, 22 phone survey) Caregivers Training’s participants participated in the survey, achieving a 68% response rate. Summary of the survey findings is presented in
Table 1: Responses on Survey questions
All respondents find the Caregivers’ training helpful, especially the practical skills acquired and the general knowledge on caregiving which improves their confidence as a caregiver.
Practical skills: Respondents appreciate the practical hands-on module of the course particularly the skills for bathing, dressing, feeding, transferring and assisting their care recipient in walking. One respondent appreciates the teaching of the smaller details in caregiving e.g nails cutting (using a foot soak first to soften the nails). Another respondent recalls the classroom sharing on transferring from car to wheelchair which increases her confidence as she was afraid of hurting her care recipient before attending the training. Several participants are keen for more practical exposure like exercise therapy, use of home devices etc.
Confidence: Many feel more confident in their role as a caregiver. Respondents feed backed that they are less nervous when pushing the wheelchair, more confident in supervising the primary caregiver and feel less panic now that they learnt how to look out for disease symptoms. For some respondents, the training reaffirms their caregiving knowledge and skills. They feel good knowing that they have been providing appropriate care to their elderly loved ones.
Respondents shared their new knowledge mostly to their domestic worker, followed by friends, family and colleagues.
Respondents would like to learn more about understanding and managing the psychology of their care recipients. Many respondents recognise that they may not understand the care recipients’ feeling and emotions e.g mood swing and temper. When caregivers are not able to understand the care recipients, it will affect the caregivers’ emotions as well. This may have implications on their caregivers’ burden and their need for caregivers’ support as respondents feed backed managing personal time, balancing their salaried job with caregiving and having quality sleep as some of their caregiving concerns.
Inaddition to respondents’ concern in understanding the psychological aspects of the care recipients, respondents also mentioned interest in nutrition, skin care and oral health.
In the course of the phone survey, noted that many caregivers are not aware of the renewal of the annual Government’s Caregivers’ Training Grant. 4 respondents show interest in taking more caregivers training in the future.
The research findings are encouraging with all respondents providing a positive feedback that the course has been beneficial.
Some respondents (4 respondents) want to have more practical exposure to caregiving. Based on the responses to Question 5, most respondents who wish to learn more about the practical skills did not respond in Question 4 that they share their knowledge to their maids. There is a possibility that respondents who want more practical training may not have maids at home, hence the heightened need to acquire more in depth practical skills themselves.
Some respondents feed backed about their interest to understand the psychology of their elderly care recipients. They are also interested to attend more “other/advanced” caregiving course although few respondents can really state what exactly they hope to learn in other/ advanced course. Putting these two findings together, a possible area to explore is to introduce psychology in caregiving as CFS’s advance caregiving course. The proposed caregiving course can focus on the understanding of the psychology of the care recipients, understanding of the psychology of the caregivers themselves and on tips on how to have the care recipients understand the intent of the care givers. This will satisfy the caregivers’ desire to attend more caregivers training while CFS can provide a more comprehensive training package (Basic & Advanced), tapping on the annual Caregivers’ training grant.
As mentioned above, there are caregivers who are unaware that the Government’s Caregivers’ Training Grant (CTG) is renewable on an annual basis. To encourage caregivers to take up CFS courses again, beside introducing advance caregivers training, CFS can send yearly reminders (after April every year) to previous participants on their eligibility to tap on CTG to refresh or acquire new knowledge on caregiving.
A post training evaluation research was conducted on participants who attended CFS’s caregivers training during the period of 2015 to early 2017. The respondents find the training useful and increased their confidence in caregiving. They will like to have more training on practical skills and psychological aspects of caregiving and caregivers’ burden. The survey findings provide potential aspects of caregiving CFS can explore in incorporating into their caregivers training.
Chan, A., Ostbye, T., Malhotra, R., & Hu, A. J. (2014). The Survey on informal caregiving. Ministry of Social and Family Development. Retrieved from https://app.msf.gov.sg/Publications/The-Survey-on-Informal-Caregiving
Ministry of social and family development. (n.d.). Data Tables: Gender. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from https://app.msf.gov.sg/Research-Room/Research-Data-Series/Statistics-Data-Tables-Gender