This feature first appeared on BERNAMA Penang, by Goh Kok Guan
GEORGE TOWN (Bernama) – Retired lecturer Lee Lik Meng suffered a stroke about eight months ago and since then he has been wheelchair-bound and needs assistance to carry out his daily tasks.
His wife Lee Moong Nah was his sole caregiver but she had trouble juggling her full-time job with taking care of her 63-year-old husband.
She said she tried sending him to a few day-care centres but their schedules did not match her own schedule.
“I sent my husband to a nursing home prior to the MCO (Movement Control Order) but I didn’t feel happy having him away from me,” she said.
Things took a brighter turn for the couple in April when they were introduced to an alternative home-care service offered by Homage Sdn Bhd, whereby a carer would visit Lik Meng two to five times a week to provide professional care in the comfort of their home.
“I’m happy my husband is being cared for at home as he is getting to enjoy a better quality of life now,” Moong Nah, who works from home, told Bernama.
Homage Sdn Bhd is among several companies in Malaysia providing home caregiving services to meet the needs of the nation’s aged care sector.
Moong Nah said whenever she is busy at work, she is able to keep in touch with her husband via video calls and receive updates from his professional caregiver.
Homage also has a specialised mobile phone application that provides comprehensive updates on patients under their care.
“It is so helpful to have a professional caregiver assisting my husband at home not only when I’m busy with my work but also when I need to run errands or need to take a break to care for my own well-being,” said Moong Nah, adding that caregiving can be a full-time job on its own.
Lik Meng is among Homage’s 350 clients in Malaysia who have benefitted from its personal care, nursing care, physiotherapy and even palliative care services.
Launched in 2017 and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Homage works with individuals with a range of mobility and medical conditions, including chronic and terminal illnesses, stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Homage country manager Gan Pooi Chan told Bernama the company extended its services to Penang in February this year in response to the growing demand for home-based nursing care services over there as it is one of the preferred destinations for retirement.
Penang, she added, has a sizeable population of elderly people with over 10 percent of its population aged 60 and above.
Gan said primary caregivers like the spouse or children should not feel guilty about seeking professional help to take care of a sick or elderly family member if they have other responsibilities such as work commitments to attend to.
“They shouldn’t be afraid or shy away from seeking professional help because taking care of patients will involve specialised tasks that can only be carried out by people equipped with the necessary knowledge and training,” she added.
When a patient is being taken care of by a professional caregiver, what matters most is ensuring “steady communication between the patient and family to maintain their bond”, said Gan, adding that while home-care services are still relatively new to Malaysia, it serves as a better alternative for elderly and infirm people who would prefer to be with their families rather than stay at a nursing home.