Future care planning: Respecting the wishes of our Life Beneficiary

16 Feb 2022


Have we forgotten how to listen without making judgments? We often assume that persons with special needs lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

In this article for our “Voices from CMs” series, SNTC’s Case Manager, Ms Loh Ee Ling, shared with us how being a good listener has enabled her to understand her client’s wishes better.

“Miss Loh, when are we visiting the home that I’ll be staying?” Lyla, a person with special needs, asked when she knows that her mother is setting up a trust account with SNTC for her.

Mdm Lee is over 80 years old, while Lyla, 45 years old, is the youngest of her three children. Mdm Lee was referred by a medical social worker to SNTC after expressing her concern for Lyla’s future care when she is no longer around. Like a typical mother, Mdm Lee does not wish to burden her other children physically and financially with Lyla’s needs, as they have their own commitments too.

Mdm Lee intends to have her HDB flat sold when she passes away, and have the sales proceeds injected into the SNTC trust account for Lyla’s long-term care needs. Lyla will also be arranged to stay in an Adult Disability home.

Lyla is aware of this arrangement and agreeable to it. However, she requested the location of the home to be in the East region, a Christian home with only Chinese residents, and a room of her own.

Lyla called me several times regarding her request. Mdm Lee told me to ignore Lyla as she has the mental capacity of a 13-year-old child. She was also apologetic and warned Lyla not to call me again. Despite so, I assured Mdm Lee that it is all right and allow Lyla to call me as she is the trust’s Life Beneficiary.

During each call, I would try to understand Lyla’s request more from her perspective. Why did she make such requests? What are her concerns? Gradually, I came to realise that her siblings stay in the East, hence she wants to make it convenient for them to visit her as they are advanced in age too. I also addressed her other concerns, and subsequently, she is at ease with the fact that she will be taken care of even when her mother passes away.

Oftentimes, we forget that persons with special needs may still have mental capacity and are capable of making decisions on their own. There is, however, a need to listen to them and not pass judgement. By doing so, the future long-term care arrangement will be one that is more holistic, as it takes into account the wishes of the Life Beneficiary.

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