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A Primary Caregiver at 21-years-old

Ms Nur Hidayah Abidin, is currently a Communications Executive at CAL, and has found a supportive environment that allows her to fulfil her caregiving duties. The 29-year-old has been a caregiver for her brother, who is three years older and has an intellectual disability and schizoaffective disorder, since she graduated from polytechnic.

She moved out of the family home when she got married in 2021, but is the main person coordinating her brother’s medical appointments as her mother does not speak English.

Family life remains unpredictable. Ms Hidayah can pick up the phone and end up spending hours on the line figuring out an administrative procedure or a medical emergency. When she was working her first full-time job in insurance administration, her employer was understanding and allowed her to take the day off at short notice if needed.

While the environment was generally supportive, she recalled a colleague once saying: “She’s been taking leave, and we constantly have to step up for her.” This saddened her. “I knew that I had to be present at work. But when duty calls, it calls, and you have to step up for your family first and foremost,” she said.

At the interview for her next job, the hiring manager wanted assurance that she could deliver on her duties. Ms Hidayah did not feel comfortable sharing that she was a caregiver. When she landed her dream job in a public relations firm, only two-and-a-half months passed before she realised that the profession would not accommodate her caregiving duties.

“I felt the need to be (available) on demand at all times at the computer,” she said. “I was also actually quite afraid of taking phone calls from my mum and brother during work hours.” Ms Hidayah said it took her a long time to accept that “caregiving will always be in my blood, it will always be part of my identity”. After taking her shot at public relations, she moved to the social services sector as a communications executive in Caregivers Alliance (CAL) this year, where she has found ample support for her caregiving duties.


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