The FAST center is in the SMF Building on Jalan Bukit Merah in Singapore. Photo: Google Maps

A non-profit organization in Singapore is providing foreign domestic workers with free counseling to help relieve the stress of looking after the elderly or children as long-term carers.

The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) – an organization that promotes social support and skills training for foreign domestic workers – launched a comprehensive and integrated care program on July 29, Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore) reported.

The program includes a 24-hour daily helpline, individual weekly counseling sections and monthly support and discussion groups where workers are allowed to share their difficulties and learn how to relieve stress while caring of the elderly or the young. The aim is to maintain good physical and mental health.

As primary carers for elderly people with chronic illnesses, especially dementia or Alzheimer’s, maids or carers often face a lot of pressure, and few have anyone to talk to, making the counseling service indispensable.

A 30-year-old Indonesian maid hired eight years ago by a Singaporean family first looked after an elderly man who had suffered a stroke and now cared for the man’s wife, who has dementia. She said she struggled as the woman with dementia often blamed her things she didn’t do – from cracks in the wall to torn plastic grocery bags.

Fortunately her employer’s son was understanding and told her not to take his mother’s comments seriously. He also sent the maid to FAST for an introductory course on dementia, where she learned that the elderly woman’s mood swings were not intentional.