Public transportation is a common mode of transport for people in Singapore. This does not change even with the onset of dementia. Having an easily accessible transportation system enables persons living with dementia to stay connected to their friends, families, and community. It also provides access to healthcare service locations, such as the hospital.
Taking Public Transportation
Dementia can make it challenging for people to access transport. Some reasons are:
• An inability to remember transport routes
• Disorientation to time and place
• Misplacing items whilst travelling (for e.g., ezlink card, bag)
• Decreased judgement and difficulty planning and organising transport
• Difficulty in communicating to transport operators where they want to go
• Changes in mood or behaviour whilst using public transport
A person living with dementia should be aided by a caregiver as they may not feel comfortable travelling alone. Not allowing a person living with dementia to go out may make them socially isolated and put them at risk of feeling depressed.
1. Encourage them to plan the route before they make the journey
2. Allow enough time for travel
3. Have the caregiver take note of any situations that may make the person living with dementia feel uncomfortable
4. Caregivers can bring along a friend or relative for extra support if needed
Grab has launched its GrabAssist and GrabAssist Plus services, where drivers are trained in helping out passengers with different accessibility needs. On top of wheelchair transfer and handling of mobility devices, these drivers know the basic signs and symptoms of dementia and basic communication skills.
In April 2021, the transport operator SMRT launched its Go-To SMRT initiative which will be rolled out throughout its network over two years. This initiative aims to make the SMRT network’s premises places that provide assistance in wayfinding, first aid, locating missing children or the elderly, and other forms of assistance.
As part of this initiative, 17 MRT stations and 5 bus interchanges have been designated as Dementia Go-To Points (GTPs), which serve as ‘safe return’ places where the public can bring persons living with dementia who are lost to. GTPs also serve as places where people can access information and resources about dementia, and link people to dementia-related services.
First aid rooms and WeCare rooms at SMRT stations and interchanges have also been refreshed. WeCare rooms are places where commuters in distress can rest and calm down.
Front-line SMRT staff have also been trained to handle situations involving persons from certain groups, including seniors, those with disabilities, and persons living with dementia.
- (2021, April 26). SMRT Media Release – SMRT demonstrates firm commitment to serve community through Go-To SMRT initiative. SMRT. https://www.smrt.com.sg/Announcements/articleid/1321.
- Yong, C. (2021, April 26). Smrt Mrt stations and bus interchanges to be turned into care centres. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/smrt-to-train-staff-so-mrt-stations-and-bus-interchanges-can-be-first-place-of-call-for.