Huiqun, 33, was born with intellectual disability and suffers from speech impairment. When her mother who was her primary caregiver succumbed to cancer in 2011, Huiqun’s 72-year-old father, Mr Tan Kian Song, a retiree, became her sole caregiver. All of a sudden, there was no one to care for the household needs - especially in attending to Huiqun’s needs, which included cooking meals, washing clothes and doing housework. Mr Tan felt lost and frustrated. Some days, he would look at her blank expression and wished he knew what was on her mind.
It was challenging looking after Huiqun as she needed close supervision. She could not speak in complete sentences and had difficulty articulating her thoughts and needs clearly. Huiqun would also snack frequently, leaving food remnants around her bed for Mr Tan to clean up. She would sometimes skip meals and if she did try to eat, she would take two hours to do so.
In 2012, Mr Tan was referred to TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL). Initially, Huiqun was afraid and would throw tantrums. Gradually, with constant encouragement from the coaches at TCIL, including TOUCH social worker Ms Chloe Liew, she soon opened up and became receptive to learning new skills, which included how to manage her time and money, personal hygiene, proper decorum and cooking simple meals. It was a significant breakthrough for Huiqun as she started to enjoy attending classes at TCIL.
Her father is happy to see her empowered with useful skills and becoming more independent. Ms Liew is also thrilled to see Huiqun practicing what she has learnt, such as greeting someone and learning how to say ‘thank you’.
TCIL also extended help to the family when Mr Tan suddenly fainted at home one day and had to be hospitalised, leaving Huiqun without a caregiver. TCIL coaches then took the opportunity to share with Mr Tan the importance of having a long term care plan for Huiqun’s future. Mr Tan is grateful to TCIL for helping his family, and he now spends his time meaningfully as a regular volunteer at the Centre. He does not worry so much now as he knows that Huiqun’s needs will be well taken care of in the future when he is no longer around.
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