What Alternatives to Live-in Helpers?

Hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW) is often thought to be the only solution to get extra hands to help around in the household. While FDWs play an extremely valuable role in many Singaporean and expat households – particularly by making it possible for breadwinners to strike a balance between their career and their personal life – they are hardly the only option.


Hiring a FDW should not be taken lightly. It is imperative that any employer-to-be takes time to think about everything hiring a FDW involves – i.e. spending time training your new employee, managing the relationship, coping with certain challenges that might arise (such as cultural and language barriers) or having someone you don’t know move in with you on a full-time basis. Because it works for many households in Singapore doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best solution for yours.


It is important to take the time to reflect and consider all the possibilities in order to figure out which option suits you best. Analyze your needs and your level of commitment to a potential new relationship.


  • If you are not prepared to having an extra person at home 24/7 or if you are looking at hiring someone to exclusively take care of the household chores, you might want to consider hiring a legal part-time domestic helper– there are plenty of local domestic helpers who work on a part-time basis, and several agencies island-wide specialize in helping you find the much-coveted gem.
  • Different households have different needs. If you need to hire someone to care for your child, consider looking at part-time babysitters to care for your kids while you are away or enrol your children to a day care centre. When it comes to ensuring that an elderly parent with an important disability or a medical condition is well taken care of, one of the best options probably is enrolling them to a day care centre for the elderly or hiring a qualified part-time nurse to care for them.
  • If your main needs are related to the care of a child with special needs, you might want to weigh the pros and cons of getting help from properly-trained professionals. More and more schools are incorporating programmes for special needs children. Another option to consider is enrolling your child aged 2 to 6 to an Integrated Child Care Programme (ICCP) or to a Special Student Care Centre (SSCC) for children aged 7 to 18 where they will be provided with a natural learning environment with programmes tailored to their needs.


Define your needs. Evaluate your options and make an informed decision. Don’t rush it. In many instances, you will find that hiring a domestic worker is the solution that works best for you. Recruiting a helper will require that you put on the employer hat and that you work on establishing a healthy relationship right from the onset to ensure that your collaboration is successful. Have a look at the many resources available on our blog to help you build a happy and long-lasting helper-employer relationship.

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