Caring for Caregivers

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In an industry where the needs of others take precedence, Caregiver Asia’s founder Yeo Wan Ling ensures that caregivers’ rights don’t fall through the cracks.

By Rebecca Wong

“I realized many caregivers, like my grandmother’s nurses, work to take care of loved ones at home. This requires a more protective ecosystem for them to practice their trade.”

Individuals who are passionate about healthcare and helping others are a dime a dozen, only a rare breed go the extra mile. Yeo Wan Ling is one of those people who combines passion with foresight and business acumen.

After a decade long stint in the public service, Wan Ling realized that home care options were severely lacking in urban cities like Singapore. This led her to set up Caregiver Asia, an online healthcare service aggregator linking freelance caregivers with careseekers. Besides founding the platform, Wan Ling is also an active advocate for freelance caregiver rights. Doyenne.sg speaks to the trailblazer on her drive, what sets Caregiver Asia apart, and keeping a positive mentality.

Wan Ling: The genesis for Caregiver Asia stemmed from my experience with my late grandmother and father.

My grandmother battled end-stage renal failure, and needed nursing care at home. I realized many caregivers, like my grandmother’s nurses, work to take care of loved ones at home. This requires a more protective ecosystem for them to practice their trade.

As for my father, he had a congenital heart condition. I could not get remote access to caregivers when living abroad. If I could book rides and buy hard-to-find clothing brands online, why did not a single site here offer caregiving help?

I figured I should start something myself to solve this problem. We spoke with stakeholders, nursing school directors, people on the street, hospital administrators and eldercare facilities owners, then came up with a means of allowing people to access experienced caregivers online.

WL: We don’t have a ‘mirror’ competitor in Singapore. Other companies are either brick-and-mortar nursing agencies, or just provide a single service online. Caregiver Asia is an online aggregator of caregivers, providing real-time availability and full transparency of charges. If you are overseas and a family member needs care, you can remotely book a local caregiver for a home visit.

In Singapore alone, there are about 8,000 licensed care practitioners who are inactive. Imagine them being able to practice on their own terms, working the hours that they can. This is where our platform truly differentiates itself from other marketplaces.

WL: Responsible freelance service aggregators need to ensure a healthy ecosystem for users. Building safety nets like secured payment systems, professional indemnity and legally binding service contracts are Caregiver Asia’s fundamentals.

In line with these priorities, the liability insurance scheme protects caregivers from legal liability arising out of a claim made against them by their client, for services resulting in bodily or mental injury, illness, and death of the client. The policy covers costs and expenses incurred in defence or settlement of these claims up to SGD100,000.

WL: Many freelancers do not enjoy the same benefits that full-time employees do. These include scheduled monthly salaries, CPF contributions, service agreements and professional indemnity insurance.

Freelance caregivers also face the double whammy of having to practice alone. They often work independently in patients’ homes and lack the mental support of a team setting.

Caregiver Asia pays special attention to these factors. Should caregivers face issues, they can call the nurse manager or careline staffers for help. They can also attend weekly training events, and pop by our offices for a coffee!

“When we first launched, only 12 people registered. Now, there’s over 6,000 caregivers in Singapore, and over 40,000 careseekers in our database.”

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

WL: When we first launched, only 12 people registered. Now, there’s over 6,000 caregivers in Singapore, and over 40,000 careseekers in our database.

Our top three home care services are nursing, followed by nurse aides, and in the last six months, babysitting! Another area which has seen significant traction is medical escorting and companionship. It’s a relatively new profession, but vital in urban areas with small nucleus families.

WL: It’s a hard act but something that millions of women do every day. It starts from clarifying what your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly priorities are, then rolling with them one day at a time. My family and colleagues have been truly supportive as well.

Every once in a while, I try to do things that break the usual routine. It could be visiting an Edo-style merchant town in Japan, or driving into the countryside in the Pacific Northwest. These experiences ground me and remind me of what life can be.   

WL: We must remember that patients’ lives are not defined by illness, but by the richness of life, their struggles, loves, friends and family. If you take time to understand the people they were before their illnesses, there’s less of an emotional roller coaster while working with them.

WL: The Five Love Languages by Dr Gary D. Chapman. I’ve kept coming back to this book. It suggests that, while everyone tries to express love for others, the way they do it might be received differently because people have different love languages. This book is an anchor to how I conduct my business negotiations, how I manage my team and how I express myself.

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