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Speech By Mr Desmond Lee, Minister For National Development, Minister-In-Charge Of Social Services Integration, At The National CareCarnival (Enabling Village) On 11 November 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All) Official Speeches: Desmond Lee

Topic(s): Disability Services Social Service Agencies & Partners


Colleagues from SGEnable, CaringSG and the Agency for Integrated Care

Caregivers, partners, ladies, and gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good morning! Thank you for joining us at the National CARECarnival. 

2. Today, we honour and appreciate all of you – our caregivers, for the dedication and support that you give to your loved ones. 

Why we organised the CARECarnival
3. We held our very first CARECarnival right here at the Enabling Village, back in 2019. 

a. Supported by SG Enable, the carnival was a ground-up initiative organised by a small group of passionate caregivers led by Dr Lim Hong Huay. 

b. They wanted to connect, enable, and empower caregivers of children with special needs, by sharing evidence-based knowledge, practical tips and advice.

4. Today, we also have with us, caregivers of seniors and persons with mental health conditions. 

a. For the first time, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), CaringSG, National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and SG Enable have joined forces to organise the National CARECarnival and Conference. 

b. And they have organised a series of four events held - throughout the month of November - that aims to affirm and empower our caregivers. 

5. If you attended the National CAREConference on Wednesday: 

a. you would have learnt from local and international speakers about how a family-centred approach can be taken to caregiving. 

b. and you would also have heard from fellow caregivers about their own experiences. 

6. Today, we are kicking off the first of three CARECarnivals. 

a. They will be held across our heartlands in the upcoming weeks. 

b. An exciting line-up of talks and activities has been planned, covering topics that many caregivers are concerned about, like mental wellness, future care planning and more. 

7. I hope that our caregivers, supporters and community partners will find these events helpful. 

a. Even as many of you devote a large part of your everyday lives caring for your loved ones, please also look after yourselves, care for yourselves, 

b. Tap on the resources from the community. 

c. Make friends with fellow caregivers.

Because as you all know, wellness is a long marathon, and if you care for yourself, you are in a better position to care for your loved ones.

Strengthening Caregiver Support Networks - Update on Project 3i 
8. Having a community of support for caregivers is important, especially as our society ages, and caregiving becomes more complex and challenging. Two weeks ago, I met an elderly lady from Boon Lay, and she told me that her husband had fallen and had to be hospitalised. He came home after some nursing care at community hospital. But because he has mobility issues, she had to carry him to toilet, and as he goes about his daily life. This hurt her back very badly. When she came to see me, she was wearing a brace and said that 10, 20 years ago, this would be not an issue for her. But now she finds things more challenging because of her own health. She is a real tough lady, but even then, she has her limits.

a. So these networks will provide caregivers with shared resources, give you practical advice on best practices, and sometimes just a listening ear when the going gets tough. 

9. This is why we launched Project 3i back in 2021: 

a. This is CaringSG’s very first initiative to care for caregivers;

b. They do this through a practical multi-layered approach: 

i. First, by building a community for caregivers, where caregivers befriend caregivers.

ii. Second, by providing dedicated buddy services, and

iii. Third, by bringing in professional support such as therapeutic and counselling services.  

c. We started with two pilots in Boon Lay and Kampong Glam, and have since expanded to four more districts: Bukit Batok East, Nanyang, Pioneer and Telok Blangah. 

d. In fact, I saw Project 3i most recently in action over the last weekend, when I joined Dr Lim Hong Huay and her team of volunteers to visit a caregiver at her home, and to allow her to pour her heart out, to be able to share the difficulties and challenges she faces, deep intense pressures, and give us tremendous insights not just into how we can support her better in caring for her loved ones, but the kinds of things we need to do in the community and in Singapore.

e. Since Project 3i started: 

i. it has benefited more than 3,900 caregivers, 

ii. including more than 900 previously unreached caregivers. 

iii. Over 100 community volunteers and experienced caregivers have also been trained to support fellow caregivers.


10. We are seeing tangible results from this programme. A recent evaluation by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation revealed that caregivers had benefitted significantly from this project, as they had gained: 

a. More knowledge and understanding of the caregiving journey; and

b. Became more connected to the community and as a result their family outcomes saw some improvements.

11. For those of you who live in Tampines, you would know that following the opening of the first Enabling Services Hub at Tampines West Community Club in August this year, my colleagues at SG Enable will be able to work closely with CaringSG and other partners, to bring support closer to caregivers of persons with disabilities in the Tampines region. Caregiving is very local, and the support needs to be within reach. As we plant more Enabling Hubs across different parts of Singapore, we want to make sure we bring the caregivers and support services around the hub, so that it radiates practical support within walking distance of families who really need these services. 

Equipping new caregivers – Caregiver Learning Roadmap and Step One 
12. Let me talk a little about the CAREConference on Wednesday, where SG Enable launched the Caregiver Learning Roadmap. 

a. This is part of the Enabling Guide, which is a first-stop resource portal for persons with disabilities and their caregivers, 

b. the Caregiver Learning Roadmap helps caregivers to identify the knowledge and skills that they may need at different stages of their caregiving journey. 

c. The website also features stories by caregivers, along with bite-sized resources developed by our friends from AIC and SG Enable.  

d. For caregivers who have  children who are newly diagnosed with developmental needs and who are awaiting early intervention services, 

i. CaringSG and SG Enable had launched the Step One programme in July this year. , This programme equips you with helpful resources and practical strategies to support your child’s learning and development and connect you to a support network. 

ii. I hope that more caregivers can make good use of these resources. 
Call to action
13. To many families, caregiving is an act of love, but it can also be an intense, and stressful commitment. 

a. You are not alone in this journey.

i. Please connect with fellow caregivers who will share their experiences and tips with you;

ii.    Tap on the support that is available. 

iii. It is not perfect, but our commitment is to keep growing, improving and strengthening the support that we provide.  

14. I would like to also thank our social service partners for stepping forward to care for those who care and toil. 

a. Partners like MINDS and TOUCH, who are also members of SG Enable’s Coalition of Partners for Caregiver Support: 

i. Together with CaringSG, you provide important services and resources to our caregivers and their loved ones. 

ii. And by working with us, we can create a network of support that empowers our caregivers so that no one feels alone on their caregiving journey. 

iii. Your collective efforts demonstrate the strength of our community. My colleagues at MSF have designated this year as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners, and we want to say a big Thank You to all of you.

Closing

15. Enjoy the CARECarnival!