A new campaign for Singapore's Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) by The Secret Little Agency (TSLA) aims to show caregiving in a more natural light. Through a series of three films and supplementary interviews, the campaign seeks to change popular notions of who a caregiver is, so that more people can reach out for help and resources.
For many people, caring for someone is simply a part of their lives. If family or friends need help, one may do it naturally and without question. Perhaps this is why fewer people identify themselves as 'caregivers' if their help is unpaid or they don't have professional credentials.
A survey by Singapore's Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) in 2021 found that just less than half (49%) of respondents with at least one dependant actually consider themselves to be caregivers. What it meant was that a lot of caregiving goes on unseen, and those quietly working in the shadows might be less likely to engage with AIC for help.
So the agency brought on TSLA to change perceptions. "Our message was clear," See Yen Theng, AIC's deputy chief of its Caregiving and Community Mental Health division, tells Campaign. "We want to make sure caregivers are recognised. We want them to be able to see themselves and the important roles they play, to understand that there are resources available to support them in their journey, and build an empathetic society in the process."
The agency has set out to do so with 'We See You Care,' a series of three one-minute films portraying slices of life from different caregivers. There is the story of 'Ah Huat' in which an elderly husband caring for his wife who is living with dementia; 'Rohit' where a young teen cares for his father with a long-term illness; and 'Hui Min', the story of a mother caring for her daughter with a mental health condition.
To truly get people to recognise and identify with the scenarios, it was critical that the films be presented as realistic and as natural as possible. "We do not want it to come across as inauthentic, See Yen Theng explains. "The experience that caregivers go through is complex, layered and multifaceted, so we need to reflect that accurately in the campaign."
This is where the direction and production team at Sweetshop excelled. There's no swelling emotional music or clichéd shots of tears or bowed heads. Instead, the banter is natural and the films are shot in one single continuous take as if we're following the caregivers around as they do about their natural lives for a minute.
"We didn’t want to create caricatures out of these very real experiences, or to reinforce existing tropes and stereotypes around caregiving. For this very reason, we were extremely intentional with the teams we worked with creatively,” a TSLA spokesperson said.
Director Matthys Boshoff had a personal connection to the issue, which likely helped bring more natural elements to the scenes. “It is very seldom that I receive a brief that hits this close to home," Boshoff said. "When I was four years old, our family was in a car accident that rendered my Mom quadriplegic. I witnessed my Dad becoming a caretaker overnight. At first glance this sounds quite intense but our relationship was also filled with a lot of joy and self-deprecating humour; making fun of our situation. In this campaign, I wanted to convey both the seriousness that comes with being a caretaker and the humour, lightness and joy in serving someone whom you love.”
The ongoing campaign will through to July 23, 2023. It is supplemented by an interview with Singapore’s Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung and a caregiver in order to encourage more people to seek help and resources.
Client: Agency for Integrated Care
Campaign: We See You Care
Agency: The Secret Little Agency
Director: Matthys Boshoff