Dear Appointed Caregiver, will you take care of my loved one with special needs?

We are delighted to be starting a new blog category titled “Voices from CMs”. Every 2 months, SNTC’s Case Managers (CMs) will be sharing useful tips or thoughts with our readers.

This February, Ms Goh Yee Ching, one of our CMs, contributes her insights on the topic of “Appointed Caregivers”.

“Please don’t let my aunt know that I called you today, I just hope to understand what I’m getting into before agreeing blindly,”

Calvin had been approached by his aunt, Mrs Khoo, to be named as the “Appointed Caregiver” (=successor caregiver) under the SNTC Trust which she has set up for her son, Ethan. Ethan’s autism condition has never hindered Calvin from showing affection towards his cousin since young, but he is worried – what exactly does it entail to be an Appointed Caregiver?

When setting up an SNTC trust, caregivers would need to consider – in the event of their demise – who could succeed them in making decisions to the best interest of their loved one with special needs (=Life Beneficiary)? Careful thought and discussion should take place before the appointment to allay the concerns of the Appointed Caregiver towards what is likely to be a lifetime commitment.

Some of the common questions which may be raised:

  • As an Appointed Caregiver, does it mean I have to physically care for the Life Beneficiary?

You are not obligated to provide physical care for the Life Beneficiary unless this is agreed upon between you and the caregiver. During reviews, care options will be discussed with the caregiver, e.g. would the Life Beneficiary be able to stay independently or with a trusted relative/friend, or would it be more suitable for him/her to stay in a sheltered environment.

  • Am I financially obligated to provide for the Life Beneficiary if the trust funds run low?

When the trust balance is low, the Case Manager would approach the Appointed Caregiver(s) to explore options in maintaining the Life Beneficiary’s care. You can choose to top up the trust but you are under no obligation to do so.

  • What are some of the responsibilities that I have to fulfill as the Appointed Caregiver?

The Case Manager will review the care plan of the Life Beneficiary regularly with the Appointed Caregiver for any necessary changes. You may also be receiving disbursements from the trust according to the Letter of Intent set out by the Settlor (=primary caregiver who set up the SNTC Trust) following trust activation.

It is important for the primary caregiver to discuss with the Appointed Caregiver on the arrangements that have or would be put in place for the loved one with special needs. It is also helpful to talk about the expectations of the Appointed Caregiver.

Few weeks following the phone call from Calvin, I met up with him and Mr & Mrs Khoo. We had a fruitful discussion and everyone was on the same page in the long-term care arrangements of Ethan. Mrs Khoo was glad that Calvin took initiative to ask questions throughout the meeting, as it shows that his decision to be the Appointed Caregiver had been carefully thought through. She can now be assured that he would be able to support Ethan after their passing, and work together with SNTC and other service providers.

Parting words to caregivers: It doesn’t matter if you are unable to name an Appointed Caregiver right away as this can be a continuous discussion during the reviews with the Case Manager. In the absence of an Appointed Caregiver, SNTC will work with the community partners involved to ensure continuity of care for your special needs loved one.

Disclaimer: Names used above are pseudonyms

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