Promoting Caregiver Well-being Through Informal Support Networks | SPD - Singapore

Promoting Caregiver Well-being Through Informal Support Networks

14/09/2018

Students and caregivers having fun during the ice breaker game.

Caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding, especially for caregivers who provide round-the-clock care for their loved ones. Many times, caregivers focus all their energies on their child with special needs and in the process, neglect their own well-being.

Recognising the importance of caring for caregivers, five final-year students from Singapore Polytechnic’s Diploma in Applied Drama and Psychology organised a series of interactive workshops. These were held on 24 July and 7 August for caregivers of children enrolled in the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre at the SPD Ability Centre.

Named “Kindred”, the workshops aimed to provide an avenue for the caregivers to express their joys and challenges while forming friendships with one another. More importantly, these workshops also let caregivers know that they are not alone in their caregiving journey.

As part of the preparatory ground work, the students interviewed the caregivers to understand their routines and challenges. These insights were then used to design the workshops to address the emotional needs of the caregivers.

The latest one happened on 7 August, when nine caregivers participated in the workshop which kicked off with an ice-breaker for the caregivers to get to know one another. This is followed by a talk show where a student played a caregiver named Mary, who spoke about the struggles she faced while bringing up a child with autism.

Participants engrossed in the sharing by Mary during the talk show.

After that, the caregivers were divided into groups to discuss the challenges faced by Mary and asked to suggest self-care activities to alleviate her stress. They were able to relate to Mary easily as her situation struck a chord with their own.

As the discussion progressed, the caregivers became aware that many of them faced similar difficulties in caregiving. One caregiver remarked that it was good to hear the stories of other caregivers and understand that there are always others in the same situation or worse.

The caregivers also shared their coping techniques and were excited to try out the new methods that they learnt from each other.

The workshop ended with the Web of Reflection. Participants stood in a circle and took turns to share their takeaways for the day. After sharing their thoughts, a ball of yarn was tossed around from one participant to another. Each caregiver held on to an end of the string before throwing the ball. The connecting strings then formed a web which represented the connection between the caregivers and emphasised how they are not alone in their caregiving journey.

The workshops were well-received and caregivers found them to be helpful, with one commenting, “Self-care comes from within and once we [engage in it], we feel better about ourselves. The recognition or realisation of that was [shown] during the workshop.”

Article contributed by social worker, Ong Xiu Hui and management associate, Chong Cai Yun.