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Being a Young Caregiver Programme facilitator
07 March 2015

Being a Young Caregiver Programme facilitator

This article was written by Susan Yeo, a facilitator with our student outreach programme for the past 7 years.

I like to talk. I like volunteering for causes I believe in.

That’s why being a facilitator with the Young Caregiver (yCG) Programme is perfect for me.

Facilitators like me deliver the yCG workshops at primary, secondary, and tertiary schools. During these workshops, I explain to students how important it is to spend time with the elderly in their lives, to support those with life-limiting illnesses, and to treasure their loved ones. I remind them why it’s important to live life to the fullest. I remind them that anything can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

When I was first introduced to the programme, it was love at first sight. The topic matter is very close to my heart, as I had been my grandmother’s caregiver before she passed away. My own daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with cancer when she was two.

I share these experiences with my students, and you should see the look on their faces when they hear about my daughter! Suddenly the entire class looks up, sits straighter, stops doing homework under the desk, and begins to take me seriously.

I enjoy sharing my journey with these students, and helping to raise awareness on hospice, life-limiting illnesses, and eldercare. My daughter Michelle also has Downs Syndrome, so I can even raise their awareness on children with special needs while sharing my caregiving experiences.

I find this sharing incredibly therapeutic and fulfilling. In all honesty, this role has helped me achieve many of my personal goals.

Some people ask me, “Susan, how can you bear to talk about the same thing for seven years?”

I tell them how it’s different every time. I don’t just talk at these students. I learn from them constantly, and bring these lessons back to hone my own skills in public speaking, and more importantly, in parenting.

I’ve also learned that the most gratifying moments may not even happen during the sessions. I recall a ‘macho’ boy who, with plenty of bravado, claimed loudly, “My parents are as strong as bulls! Why would I need to take care of them?” Yet he wrote privately afterward how he planned to spend more time with them and find ways to show his care for them.

Another special memory was when a girl approached me after the workshop to ask me for advice. She wanted to learn more about what she should do, and shared her own worries about a family member who had been diagnosed with cancer, but who was keeping her at arm’s length. I felt so honoured to be trusted, and given the opportunity to support this young lady.

To me, HCA’s Young Caregiver Programme goes beyond eldercare. We facilitators want these students to understand that they may not always be able to see their loved ones. We want to equip them, yes, with caregiving skills, but more importantly, with empathy.

To us, yCG isn’t just about caregiving. It’s about moral values – an all-rounded character building exercise that I am honoured to deliver for so many students.

Join Susan and our team of yCG Facilitators in teaching the young to show care for their elders. Email us at ycg@hcahospicecare.org.sg for more information. Meanwhile, find out more about HCA’s yCG Programme here.