SINGAPORE – Caregiving is a fact of life for many. In fact, Singapore is home to more than 210,000 caregivers and that number is set to rise in the coming years. Whether it be due to an ageing population and low birth rates, or to a greater awareness of mental health issues, caregiving is a shared experience, more common than we tend to think.
Yet, results of a survey commissioned by Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to find out how caregivers view themselves and their contributions revealed that less than half (49%) of respondents – of whom all have at least one dependent – actually identified or saw themselves as caregivers. This uncovered an important truth that caregiving often goes unseen in Singapore.
In a bid to recognize and shine the spotlight on the everyday caregiver, Singapore’s Agency for Integrated Care has launched a campaign in partnership with The Secret Little Agency.
“We See You Care” was created with the aim of bringing awareness to caregivers, recognizing them for the vital role they play and letting them know that help is available.
“There are currently many caregivers among us, and there is a large pool who will be future caregivers, be it to care for a parent, a spouse, or a relative,” said See Yen Theng, Deputy Chief of the Caregiving and Community Mental Health Division at AIC. She added, “Through this campaign, we want to spark conversations on the important role that caregivers play, and raise awareness of their contributions. There is support available for them to tap on, and we encourage caregivers to take time to care for themselves, so that they can be recharged to go the distance in their caregiving journey.”
The campaign launches with a heart-to-heart chat between Singapore’s Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung and a caregiver. It highlights the importance of firstly identifying oneself as a caregiver and secondly, that it’s crucial to seek help as it is natural to feel overwhelmed when caregiving. Speaking to the caregiver, Minister Ong said: “There are also days you find it hard and in times when you need that help, there are actually resources available, where they can actually introduce support groups to you too.” He added: “If you’re a caregiver, we know that it’s not easy. We see that you care, and we care too.”
This is then accompanied by three short films, depicting the lived realities of caregivers in Singapore. Inspired by the real people and families that AIC supports through the work they do, the films follow the lives of three different caregivers handling different areas of care: a young teen caring for his father with long-term illness, a mother caring for her daughter with a mental health condition, and an elderly husband caring for his wife who is living with dementia. Shot in one single continuous take, the films give us a peek into a minute of these caregivers’ lives – an authentic glimpse into their reality.
“We knew it was important not only to identify but recognize caregivers,” said a spokesperson for The Secret Little Agency. She added: “Having worked closely with AIC to dive deep into the lives of caregivers, it was imperative to us that we brought these stories to life truthfully and with dignity – we’ve successfully done so with these films. We didn’t want to create caricatures out of these very real experiences, or to reinforce existing tropes and stereotypes around caregiving. For this very reason, we were extremely intentional with the teams we worked with creatively.”
To bring this creative vision to life, The Secret Little Agency partnered up Sweetshop’s Director Matthys Boshoff and his team. Commenting on first receiving the script, Matthys said: “It is very seldom that I receive a brief that hits this close to home. When I was four years old our family was in a car accident that rendered my Mom quadriplegic. I witnessed my Dad becoming a caretaker overnight. At first glance this sounds quite intense but our relationship was also filled with a lot of joy and self-deprecating humor; making fun of our situation. In this campaign I wanted to convey both the seriousness that comes with being a caretaker and the humor, lightness and joy in serving someone whom you love.”
Client: Agency for Integrated Care
Campaign: We See You Care
Agency: The Secret Little
Agency Production: Sweetshop
Director: Matthys Boshoff