"It gives me great joy that I am able to care for my brother in the comfort of our home."
- Ms Teresa Seet, beneficiary of Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)
For years, Mr Lawrence Seet slept on a mattress on the floor of his three-room flat.
60-year-old Mr Lawrence Seet, who has Down Syndrome, has multiple medical conditions which have left him paralysed. As a result, he is completely dependent on others to help him perform the various activities of daily living, such as eating or taking a shower.
Ms Teresa Seet, 65, Mr Seet’s older sister and main caregiver, recalled the difficulties of caring for Mr Seet. “It was challenging, especially because we did not have the right equipment to care for him properly. Those years were hard on us.”
As Mr Seet could not sit well without assistance, he once slid off a chair while having his meal and knocked his head on the ground. After that, all his daily needs were attended to on the floor, as Ms Seet feared for her brother’s safety.
Without any help, the constant physical exertion and emotional stress was not a sustainable solution for Ms Seet.
Faced with no other alternative, Ms Seet came to a painful conclusion – she would have to place his brother in a nursing home, even if she was reluctant to do so.
“My only wish is for my brother to receive the care he needs,” she shared.
A TURN OF THE TIDE
Thankfully, things took a turn for the better in the first week of December 2015, when Ms Seet stumbled upon an online advertisement about the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).
She was put in touch with Ms Serena Chua, a case manager of the Community Care Assessment and Coordination Team (ComCAT), an initiative under AIC. ComCAT conducts timely in-person assessments to guide seniors and their caregivers in finding the best solution to meet their care needs, especially for seniors who have mobility problems or persons with complex care needs that require the coordination of different services and support.
Ms Serena Chua recalled, “Teresa approached us thinking that since the family could not provide proper care for Lawrence, they would need to put him in a nursing home.”
“While sharing with her about nursing homes, we also informed her about other care options available. For instance, we shared about several financial assistance schemes that Ms Seet wasn’t aware of, which would go a long way in helping her with caring for Mr Seet,” said Ms Chua.
Ms Chua further explained to Ms Seet how ComCAT would be able to help replace Mr Seet’s well-worn wheelchair – a wheelchair that had actually been passed down from their mother – and provide a hospital bed for him at subsidised rates.
These made Ms Seet realise that home care was still possible, and that institutionalised care was not the only choice she was left with.
HELP IS READILY AVAILABLE
Today, Mr Seet sleeps comfortably on a proper bed and is able to eat his meals in comfort.
Gone were the days when Mr Seet could only take a bath once every three days due to the lack of suitable equipment – he is now able to take daily baths.
With relief in her voice, Ms Seet said, “The amount of care that you receive in institutions, although it is trained care, will never be the same as the care you receive at home from your loved ones. It gives me great joy that I am able to care for my brother in the comfort of our home.”
Ms Chua added earnestly, “Help is always readily available, you only need to ask and it will be given.”
“You don’t have to struggle in silence.”
About AIC's Care Coordination and Case Management Initiatives
ComCAT is a programme under AIC’s Care Coordination and Case Management initiatives. Tote Board also supports two other programmes under this initiative, which enable more seniors to fulfil their wishes of ageing well at home and in the community:
Service Links, branded as “AICare Links”, are information and care navigation service points in the public hospitals. Care consultants advise caregivers on care options, provide referrals to care support services, and assist with applications for financial assistance schemes and grants.
Community Case Management Service (CCMS)
Through CCMS, seniors with multiple health and social care needs are supported by case managers with nursing and/or social work backgrounds. These case managers help tailor holistic care plans for them, coordinate care options and services, and provide medication reminders, counselling and caregiver training.