When we speak of self-care, many tend to think of reading, exercising, watching videos, or having a nice cup of tea. However, sharing your story, seeking spiritual or peer support, and even massaging your pressure points are also forms of self-care.
These are some key themes that were discussed during the inaugural peer-to-peer sharing session for caregivers on 15 December 2020. Facilitated by three caregivers, this online session was jointly organised by social workers from SPD@Bedok and SPD@Tampines to provide a safe space for caregivers to meet and share their caregiving experiences.
One of the caregivers, Mdm Salimah Osman, introduced to the group, Jin Shin Jyutsu, a gentle form of acupressure therapy to relieve stress. She demonstrated the various poses and pressure points for different parts of the body to help reduce stress, which she found helpful for herself and her family when caring for her child.
Tapping on the skills that they learnt from the peer-to-peer mentor training conducted by SG Enable, Mdm Farah Juwita and Mdm Stacey Seah who were winners of last year’s SingHealth Inspirational Caregiver Awards, also encouraged caregivers to share their experience with each other. By doing so, caregivers will be able to see similarities in each other’s caregiving journey, and in turn find some hope and healing during the process.
Participants feedback that they have benefitted from the sharing of stories by different caregivers as it brought comfort and relief knowing that they are not alone in this journey. Ways to improve their relationship with their children through the sharing by other caregivers were also valuable take-aways for the participants.
“It’s heartening to see the caregivers connecting with one another during the session. What made it more special is the fact that this event was led by our own caregivers. Every caregiver has his or her own strengths, and it is important to tap on these so that they can support and inspire others as they move forward in their caregiving journey,” said Nur Iriani, a social worker from SPD@Tampines.
Quoting the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, Mdm Farah encouraged caregivers not only to practise self-care but also to build rapport with professionals who are involved in their child’s learning and to reach out to their family members or peers for support. That was also the main aim of this session – to create a space for like-minded caregivers to journey together and to be familiar with the support systems. This is essential as caregiving is a lifelong journey where to care for children with special needs, caregivers have to be cared for and feel supported.