New job opportunities for older women
Through a WINGS-KKH confinement nanny course, women over 40 have a chance to try something new.
BY: Eleanor Yap
The first confinement nanny programme started by the Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully (WINGS) and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) has given women 40 years and above new hope and a chance to work in a new industry. Said one of the programme’s first batch of nine participants, Anna Tan, who did not want to reveal her age, “At our age, there are not many jobs available for us. After (taking) this course, we can become confinement nannies.”
Added another participant and former insurance agent Angie Lim: “This is a new concept and training for us. It’s good and we can now be trained as confinement nannies. Nowadays, the new mothers do not have it easy. So far, they’ve been getting their confinement nannies from Malaysia. Even then, these have to be through referrals because you don’t know who’s good and who’s not.”
This 49-year-old mother of two has spent a year job-hunting. She had sent out “countless” resumes, even for housekeeping jobs, but nothing. She decided then to take the confinement nanny training course. It seems her luck has changed for the better – before the course started, Lim has her first nanny assignment!
The programme aims to equip these women with the most up-to-date knowledge and practical skills as confinement nannies or serve as competent confinement nannies to their own families. Added another participant, Esther Cheng, who did not want to reveal her age and is not seeking employment: “One of my children got married a year ago. Maybe soon I’ll be a grandmother and I can be chief! I can have all these (she points to the group of trainees) as my assistants! ”
At the end of the five-day course, participants will know about complete baby care, breastfeeding techniques, healthy confinement cooking, and be able to prepare 20 confinement meals and create well-balanced menu plans. They will also understand and identify the herbs used in confinement cooking that are essential towards re-nourishing and re-building the health of the new mother. Cheng and Lim explained that the confinement cooking lesson was particularly eye-opening and they now understand the importance of herbs.
Explained Dr Kanwaljit Soin, president of WINGS, of the need for such a course: “Over the past year, we met with various organisations and realised that there is a need in Singapore for quality home post-natal care given by trained personnel. Through this collaboration with KKH, we aim to equip some of our members with up-to-date knowledge and skills necessary for them to provide confinement nanny services.”
Added Lee Heng Pheng, director, Division of Nursing, KKH: “We are pleased to partner WINGS in this programme and help their participants acquire a set of useful skills that offer them an alternative job option as well as enable them to help postnatal mothers.”
Besides the age requirement, those signing up for the WINGS-KKH course should be Singapore citizens or permanent residents, have basic cooking skills and be a WINGS member (a year membership costs $10). The course, which is held in English, costs $1,200. Asked if there were any subsidies given, Amy Tan, executive director of WINGS, said: “In order to provide a subsidy, there has to be some strings attached such as a contracted period of time for services rendered or other forms of reciprocal engagement. The initial feedback we had received from our members during our planning stage was that the ladies preferred the freedom to choose between employment and use of the skills at home with their families. As such, WINGS decided not to offer any subsidy nor any binding terms for the participants. So, the ladies can decide to take the course for their own personal development or to seek part-time employment.”
WINGS and KKH have signed an agreement to jointly run the confinement nanny training programme for three years. Tan explained that during this period, they will be assessing the course and getting feedback from participants. “We’ll review the programme and assess base on the demand for it.”
For those looking for a similar course in Mandarin can opt for Thomson Medical Centre’s hands-on confinement lady/nanny training course, which lasts two days. The course fee is $300, however, participants are required to serve a contract with TMC for a period of three years.
** The next WINGS-KKH confinement nanny training course will likely be February or March 2010. For more information, contact May Tan at 6250 1012 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For the TMC course, call 6251 4090.
(PHOTO CREDITS: WINGS)
Special thanks to: Koh Joh Ju of Pinstripes Communications for her help on the story.