MOM firmly rejects appeal by severely-sick citizen to hire domestic helper, citing ongoing investigation

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) rejects desperate appeal by severely-sick Singaporean lady who needs round the clock medical care, to hire foreign domestic worker (FDW) because of ongoing investigation.

Mdm Lim, aged 50 years old, and her household are being barred from hiring foreign domestic workers after her recent domestic worker reported to MOM over charges which she is unaware.

The family does not know what claims the domestic worker has made against them and MOM is unwilling to shed light on the matter.

The family had earlier engaged the service of two FDWs in the month of May and October. The second domestic worker was hired because the first FDW complained about the work load and requested to work only 15 days a month. The FDWs were then paid 20 dollars a day, pro-rated from the original monthly salary. According to Mdm Lim’s daughter, MOM did not object to the arrangement so long both parties are agreeable.

After the investigation commenced, MOM has not stated to Mdm Lim on what charges did the domestic workers have filed against her and just imposed the ban on the family.

When MOM contacted the family about the complaint, the daughter shared that the FDW had been working outside when she was supposed to be resting and had earlier confronted the FDW before the complaint was filed by the FDW. (TOC was shown the conversation records and evidence)

Under MOM regulations, it is an offence for a FDW to engage in part-time employment, with or without her employer’s consent. However, the MOM investigating officer simply said that they will look into the matter and that it was of another matter.

Mdm Lim is certified by a neuro-surgeon to be suffering from tetraplegia from a spinal cord tumor and requires 24hr nursing care. In his written note, the surgeon explicitly noted the family cannot afford professional nursing care and require her family members to take care of her.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital gave the same footnote after she visited the hospital for Community Acquired Pneumonia as a result of her underlying illness.

Mdm Lim also suffered a third-degree burn to her legs after having a hair dryer blown directly at it. Mdm Lim had complained about being cold and did not realize that the hair dryer used to warm her up, had accidentally pointed directly at her leg as she cannot feel from her leg.

Mdm Lim left the hospital prematurely against medical advice due to worries of not being able to afford the mounting medical fees.

lim-injuries
Mdm Lim’s leg severely burnt by hair dryer

KTPH in its letter, pointed to Mdm Lim’s need to receive full support and assistance as she is dependent on her activities of daily living and treatment.

Mdm Lim’s family has since written to the MOM, Prime Minister Office and the Manpower Ministry, Lim Swee Say for assistance in the appeal against the ban but has hit a brick wall with no replies. Even the visit to the Member of Parliament bore no results, as the grassroots volunteer who attended to the daughter on behalf of the MP, said that they can do nothing for them.

MOM only replied after countless attempts to seek a response on the ban, a medical social worker from KTPH sent an appeal letter to MOM on 5 Dec. The social worker wrote that it is imperative that Mdm Lim identifies a full time caregiver to attend to her care needs.

She wrote, “…the family had previously engaged a domestic helper to fulfil this role, because all her other household members have their own work commitments and no capacity to be a family caregiver. At present, it has come to our attention that the family’s employment eligibility is presently being reviewed. As there is an urgent need for Mdm Lim to receive help in her care, I am writing to seek your advice if the family can proceed with still employing another domestic help/caregiver while their case is currently investigated. Otherwise, kindly consider expediting the review process in view of Mdm Lim’s urgent care needs.”

However, MOM replied immediately on the day itself stating that the ministry have considered the circumstances and insisted that the household will not be allowed to employ an FDW until further notice.

Just on 23 November this year.  Mdm Lim had a near miss as the oxygen level in her body dropped to a very low level due to her pneumonia and her daughter who was staying at home to take care of her, immediately called the ambulance and barely made it. She said, she would have died if her daughter had to go out for work as she has no strength to even pick up a phone to dial for help, especially if she has breathing issues.

According to a list submitted to the MOM officer in charge of her case, Mdm Lim states out clearly on what is expected of the two domestic worker. Which is to provide care for her; clean her urine bottle, sterilize her wounds; clean the house of fur and dust; sterilize the utensils and support her to the washroom.

Given the extensive care needed by Mdm Lim, TOC asked the family why not hire a professional caregiver instead of hiring a foreign domestic worker to do the work. Mdm Lim shared that her family has spent a lot on her medical bills and they are in no financial position to hire a professional caregiver.

If Mdm Lim could hire a specialist to take care of her medical needs, she would not have to go through all these red tapes. However, it is clear that families in Singapore go for the considerable cheaper alternative of health caretaker by engaging domestic workers, as with families who hire caretakers for childcare, eldercare for the same reasons. However, domestic workers are seldom trained for such tasks nor have the mental fortitude to carry out the duties.

TOC has written to MOM and will include their response when they reply.

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