Friday 28 September 2012

Foreign Domestic Worker Grant: Maid stipend to be given to employers from Nov 2012

51 applications approved to help those with elderly, disabled members
By Amelia Tan, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2012

FROM November, the first batch of 51 employers will receive a government grant to help them offset the costs of hiring a maid to take care of frail, elderly or disabled family members.

The monthly stipend of $120 comes from the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant, which is expected to cost $25 million over the next five years. Eventually, more than 6,000 middle- and low-income families are expected to benefit from the grant.

Employers generally pay their maids a monthly salary of $400 to $450, as well as a monthly levy of $265 to the Government.

Households with family members above 65 years old now pay a discounted levy of $170. The new grant is given on top of this monthly concession.

Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob said yesterday that more than 330 applications have been filed since Aug 7, when applications for the grant opened.

But only 51 applications were approved as the rest were incomplete and did not come with the necessary documents, she added.

To qualify, households must have a per capita monthly income of $2,200 or less.

The elderly or disabled family member, after being assessed by a doctor, must be someone who requires help when taking a shower or moving around, for example.

This person must also be living with the applicant, and the maid who is employed must have attended training approved by the Centre for Enabled Living.

Applicants must provide the necessary documents to prove that these criteria have been met.

Madam Halimah said it is important that applicants fulfil these conditions when they submit their applications, so these can be quickly approved and grants given.

More than 4,000 people have made inquiries on the grant through e-mail and phone.

Madam Halimah was speaking to reporters before visiting the home of one successful applicant, Mr Abdul Rahim Karim, 86, who has dementia.

Mr Rahim, who has had two strokes, lives with his wife, daughter and granddaughter in a four-room flat in Balam Road in MacPherson. An Indonesian maid takes care of him.

His daughter, bank officer Roziah Abdul Rahim, 52, is the sole breadwinner of the family.

She spends close to $1,000 every month to employ the maid and pay for the medical bills of her parents. Her mother has arthritis and has difficulty walking.

Ms Roziah said: "The costs add up. I am thankful for all the help I can get."

Madam Halimah also announced that eldercare facilities and services supported by the ministry will be given new and simpler names to help families understand them better.

The integrated day facilities, for example, will now be known as senior care centres.

These centres provide basic day care as well as rehabilitation and care for dementia patients.

The Ensuite Social Home Care - a service that allows the elderly to be cared for by a care worker trained to provide a range of services, from basic nursing care to therapy activities - will be renamed Senior Home Care.

Seniors activity centres and seniors service centres will be renamed senior activity centres. These are mostly located in rental flats and studio apartments and are where the elderly can take part in recreational activities.

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