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THE DYNAMICS OF MULTIGENERATIONAL CARE IN SINGAPORE. LENG LENG THANG NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE. Seminar on Family Support Networks and Population Ageing, 3-4 June 2009, Doha, Qatar . INTRODUCTION. Cycle of care Parents support the younger generation

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the dynamics of multigenerational care in singapore

THE DYNAMICS OF MULTIGENERATIONAL CARE IN SINGAPORE

LENG LENG THANG

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

Seminar on Family Support Networks and Population Ageing,

3-4 June 2009, Doha, Qatar

introduction
INTRODUCTION

Cycle of care

  • Parents support the younger generation
  • Older parents support the younger generation by caring for their grandchildren
  • Younger generation support aging parents
objective
Objective
  • To understand the interplay between the caregivers and care recipients in the context of Singapore
  • To examine the impact of the presence of paid foreign domestic maids in the family setting
  • To examine Intergenerational family care from a life course perspective
number and proportion of older persons
NUMBER AND PROPORTION OF OLDER PERSONS

Source: Singapore Departmentof Statistics (2008) and UN data <http://data.un.org>. *As percentage of total population

mosaic of family care
MOSAIC OF FAMILY CARE
  • Multiple generations either living in the same household or living in separate households which are often within close proximity
  • Strong filial support - family as the most important source of care
attitudes on family issues
ATTITUDES ON FAMILY ISSUES

Source: MCYS Survey on Social Attitudes of Singaporeans (2005).

measures and policies
MEASURES AND POLICIES
  • Parent/handicapped parent relief
  • Grandparent Caregiver Tax Relief
  • The Maintenance of Parents Act
  • The Multi-Tier Family Housing Scheme
  • The Joint Selection Scheme
  • The CPF (Central Provident Fund) Housing Grant
caregivers in singapore
Caregivers in Singapore
  • Most family caregivers in Singapore are female, mostly wives or daughters and daughter-in-laws
  • Female caregivers are reported to be more stressed than males, and 18% of caregivers do not receive any assistance
  • The Foreign Maid Scheme (since 1978)
  • 2008: 170,000 (1 in 6 households employ maids)
understanding family care policy in singapore
UNDERSTANDING FAMILY CARE POLICY IN SINGAPORE
  • NOT a “welfare state”
  • “Many hands approach” but Family as the first line of defence
family as first line of help
Family as first line of help
  • We believe that the family is the primary care-giving unit and the bedrock of support for seniors. The family must be supported and strengthened in its ability to care for its older members to ensure that institutionalization remains a measure of last resort.” (Report on the Ageing Population, 2006:12).
analysis of emergent themes
ANALYSIS OF EMERGENT THEMES
  • Gratitude

C: “[She] had a very hard life…She look after…brought [us up]…My father passed away…my elder brother was only 11, I was 7, the third one is 3…the fourth one she was expecting…That’s why…how can I leave her alone? That’s the reason!” (Chinese daughter, Huang 2002)

analysis of emergent themes13
ANALYSIS OF EMERGENT THEMES
  • Multigenerational households and mutual help

“Yes I am close, close (to my grandchildren). For example, with my grandson here, when he was still young, my wife and I took care of him. We sent him to school, picked him up from school. My wife would prepare his meals. Because his mother was working, so I took care of his wellbeing. I also took care of another grandson when he was very young. My wife took care of him and of his meals. His mother was working too: sometimes going in the morning and coming back at night, going in the afternoon and coming back at night. My wife and I took care of him, so that we will always have strong relationships with our grandchildren and children.” (L1, GPP)

slide14

“Well, of course…..taking care of the grandparent also, of course I want to give the best to I can give to them…. if you can survive until now, now is the time for us to repay back on what they have done for us. And its time for us to…and we know that life is ….. very short…so I want to give the fullest attention to them.” (N2, GPP)

slide15

Dilemma in family care

  • I will be helping out but I’m afraid that I’m old and my legs are too weak, it’s ok when I’m seated but it’s different when I’m standing or moving around. Now when the child is small I may still be able to take care, but when the baby grows up and I have to carry it around, it’s not going to be easy for me. My legs are weak and I’m afraid that accidents might happen. I myself don’t matter but the baby is important. For a decade I have not been helping baby to bath and I’m afraid I can’t even hold them properly. (GPP)
slide16

“ Grandmother: I don’t want to have that responsibility. I am done raising five, so that grandchildren, I should have the luxury of (enjoying them), you know?

  • Grandfather: Having said that, all our children know that if there’s an emergency, we are available. (G1, GPP)
slide17
Impact of the foreign maids in family dynamics

“It feels different when your own child looks after you and other people...It’s different, when [they] bathe me, wipe me…[The maid] would be in a hurry to do it. [My daughter] will take her time to do it. [She] does a more thorough job. (Elder Parent, FCP)

paradox of maid in family care
Paradox of maid in family care
  • Quality of care
  • Fear of elder abuse
  • Continuity of filial piety or shunning responsibility?
  • Conflicts between maids and the grandparents at home (resembling daughter-in-law and mother-in-law conflict)
merits of maid in family care
Merits of maid in family care
  • relieve the stress of the family caregiver
  • improves relationship between the elderly and the caregiver.
  • gives the primary caregivers more freedom

J: “I have to work, then she pass urine, vomit…fall ill…I’m unable to do all these myself. Sometimes I’ll feel burnt out, I’ll lose temper…With a maid will be more relieved, not so pressurized and stressful.” (FCP)

slide20

Help facilitate elder parent-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship as maid becomes the ‘go-between (“triangular” communication pattern)

“It’s either I worry about the person all the time, or I let go a little. It’s like even now when I’m out of the house and I know my (maid)

caregiver is completely, totally reliable. My dad trusts her. I think that trust is a very important thing.” (Chinese son, Hwang, 2002)

conclusion
CONCLUSION
  • State support for caregivers: Agency for Integrated Care
  • Foreign maid as one ‘helping hand’ in “Many Helping Hands” approach
  • Need to promote better well-being for maids NGOs: TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too) and CMI (Commission for Migrants and Itinerants)