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A Labour of Love in the Comforts of Your Home

21 July 2015

Mr Chang Foh Ted, 68, a part-time Senior Care Assistant with NTUC Health Home Care (previously known as Care@home), visits his client, Mr Chiok, aged 89, every other day for two hours each time.

When he gets to Mr Chiok’s home, Mr Chang puts on an apron and a pair of gloves, and assists Mr Chiok into the bathroom and prepares his bath. Though mostly immobile, Mr Chiok is still encouraged to do simple activities like shampooing or soaping. After he gets himself clean, Mr Chang then helps to rinse and dry him off with a towel.

Mr Chiok lives with his son and daughter-in-law, who both work during the day, leaving him alone with a domestic worker. However, the domestic worker mainly does household chores and is not trained to take care of the elderly. Thus, Mr Chang’s services are needed to provide both physical help and companionship for Mr Chiok.

After bathing, the two of them go out for a walk and then head over to a nearby coffee shop for a cup of coffee. After which, they return to Mr Chiok’s home to relax and listen to old Chinese songs. This is how Mr Chang and Mr Chiok would spend two mornings each week.

“I feel good knowing that I can help Mr Chiok. Things like going to the coffee shop are extra, and not necessary to the care that he needs. But he’s the one who communicates with me that he wants to take a walk and drink coffee together, so I accompany him,” says Mr Chang. It has become a regular routine for the two of them, a testimony to how comfortable Mr Chiok now feels with him.

Mr Chang recalls how Mr Chiok was initially begrudging towards him as he was a stranger. But, after a while, he grew familiar with him. It was Mr Chang’s dedication that allowed Mr Chiok to trust Mr Chang to take care of him, becoming friends along the way.

Mr Chang came to care for the elderly because of his mother. At the time of his mother’s illness, he assumed the role of taking care of her, and found it difficult initially as he was unsure what to do. After his mother passed away, Mr Chang felt that it was his calling to help the elderly, and began to learn more about proper care for the elderly.

He has been a Senior Care Assistant with NTUC Health Home Care for three years now. Although a retiree himself, he plans to work as long as he is physically able.

“If I remain inactive, it slows me down mentally and makes me feel like I have no purpose in life. I’m still healthy and I want to do my part to give back and contribute to society,” he said.

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