【Local】Postnatal care service in demand while lacks regulation
The demand of domiciliary postnatal nannies remains high, even the birth rate in Hong Kong has declined since 2011 but there is no regulation to ensure the quality of these services.
“Sitting the month”, is a Chinese tradition that postpartum women need to stay indoors for at least 30 days and observe a strict regimen to nourish their bodies. Postnatal nannies are usually hired for helping postpartum women’s body recovery and caring of newborn babies.
Hong Kong’s birth rate in 2014 was 8.6 births per 1,000 people below the replacement rate, indicating that the city has one of the lowest birth rate in the world. However, the demand of confinement nannies has been rising. Isaac Chan, the founder of “Doula Easy “, an online postnatal care service agency listed two reasons. One reason is that an increasing number of couples in Hong Kong prefer one child so they put all their concerns and love into that child. In this case, hiring postnatal nannies to look after their babies is a good and secured choice. The other reason is that with the improvement of people’s health consciousness, young people trust more in certificates, they hire postnatal nannies to help lactating women get recovered rather than asking their parents or relatives for help.
Mr. Chan said that postnatal nannies were popular because of their professional knowledge and experience. Nannies will tailor make recipes and regimes for different mothers based on their unique physiques and physiological status. They need to complete courses and tests offered by Employees Retraining Board (ERB) for certificates. In addition, nannies who charge high prices, for example around $50,000 a month, have to work for 24 hours a day while some inexperience nannies only charge around $12,000 a month for 8 hours, according to Mr. Chan.
Doula Easy is one of post-natal care service agency websites. Mothers are free to find a post-natal care nanny here.
CoCo Wong, an expectant mother has pre-contracted a confinement nanny three months before giving birth. She considered experience and the number of certificates the nanny owned when she chose a confinement nanny. “I think more experienced nanny charges higher, so I plan to spend $50,000 per month to hire one,” she said.
Actually, people can hire 10 domestic workers with $50,000 monthly in Hong Kong, but many mothers, like Ms. Wong, choose to hire a postnatal nanny for that amount. Generally, mothers will hire a postnatal nanny for one month.
However, not all mothers can hire an experienced nanny, even they are willing to pay high price. Ms. Wong said that her friend used to hire a postnatal nanny for over $48,000 monthly through recommendation by an online forum, but the nanny’s performance was disappointing. “She showed my friend several certificates and reference letters, that’s why my friend hired her,” Ms. Wong said.
There are no rules regulating postnatal nannies or official credential for them in Hong Kong. They are free to find jobs through agencies or by personal contacts and some of them may fabricate their resumes. The validity of reference letters is one of the problems as it would be difficult to cross check with former employers if they do not leave their contact information. Mr. Chan indicated that most mothers do not call to account when they discover the nanny’s reference letter is fabricated. They won’t bother to deal with legal issues and will just fire the nanny and find a new one. The other problem is the quality of certificates. Mr. Chan said he only employed nannies with certificates issued by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB), such as Foundation Certificate in Post-Natal Care Worker Training or Foundation Certificate in Infant and Child Care Worker Training. Participates have to pass a test after taking a 152-hour course to get the certificate. “The test is not easy and some nannies need to retake several times to get the certificate,” said Mr. Chan.
However, there are also other post-natal care worker trainings offered by different organizations in Hong Kong.
“I doubt the quality of some courses not organized by EBR. I thought some of them look like selling the certificates,” said Mr. Chan.
In mainland China, the administration set regulations for postnatal nannies in 2015. They divided nannies into six levels based on their skills and experience. Nannies have to satisfy all standard requirements and undergo various training sessions and assessments to attain the highest level. “I agree to set a unified regulation for postnatal nannies in Hong Kong, but it would be difficult,” Mr. Chan said. He thought that would be hard to investigate the misbehavior of postnatal nannies because some customers may raise unreasonable complaints. Therefore, it will take time to investigate every complaint and affix the responsibility.
Reported by: Jeannie TANG
Edited by: Pamela LIN
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