Building a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore - DementiaHub.SG

Building a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore

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Dementia can be a socially alienating illness. Many who have the condition spend their time cooped up indoors or in a nursing home, no longer able to lead normal lives. This is a shame as many persons living with dementia can continue their daily routines if given a safe and inclusive environment to do so.

To create a more caring and inclusive society to support persons living with dementia and their families, the Dementia-Friendly Singapore (DFSG) initiative was launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and supported by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and community partners.

How Can a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore Support Persons Living With Dementia and Their Loved Ones?

The DFSG initiative encourages persons living with dementia to continue living in their own homes and go about their usual routines in the community. This has to collectively involve the community’s members – who include but are not limited to neighbours, shopkeepers, coffee-shop drink sellers, and bank tellers – who can understand and help them.

In a dementia-inclusive Singapore, people, neighbours, shops, markets, and businesses are sensitised to the challenges of persons living with dementia and treat them with empathy and patience. In such an environment, persons living with dementia are empowered to live as independently and meaningfully as possible, with dignity.

What Is a Dementia-Friendly Community (DFC), and Why Is It Important?

Click here to watch a Mandarin version of the video.

A DFC is a community where:

• People are aware of dementia and its signs, and understand how to better support persons living with dementia and their caregivers;
• Environments are safe and easy for persons living with dementia to navigate and continue with activities and routines that they enjoy;
• Businesses’ and services’ staff are respectful and helpful towards persons living with dementia; and
• Resources are readily available to increase the public’s dementia awareness and provide better support for those with need.

In such a social environment, persons living with dementia and their caregivers will be encouraged to seek help and support. They will also feel included in their community, be more independent, and have more choice and control over their lives, while feeling:

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At the same time, seniors can reduce their risk of developing dementia with readily accessible active ageing activities. Persons living with dementia can be identified early, and appropriate care and support will be provided.

This is a community that reaches out to its neighbours and seeks to support people affected by this condition in coping with their condition.

DFCs in Singapore

There are currently a number of DFCs in Singapore which include Yishun, MacPherson, Hong Kah North, Bedok, Queenstown, Fengshan, Bishan, and Kebun Baru. Yishun was the first DFC in Singapore, set up by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and the Lien Foundation under the Forget Us Not initiative. Under this initiative, KTPH provided training to over 20,000 people to help them better identify and understand dementia.

In DFCs, people in the neighbourhood are aware of dementia and understand how to better support persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Businesses and services are encouraged to make adjustments that will have a positive impact on the lives of persons living with dementia and their caregivers. An example of a dementia-friendly business venue in a DFC is Kim San Leng Food Centre in Bishan. Some stallholders at this food centre have been given training on how to recognise signs of dementia. They also have checklists to display in their stalls on signs of dementia and pointers on how to interact with persons living with dementia.1

At the heart of any DFC are the volunteers known as Dementia Friends. This network of Dementia Friends is an essential building block in creating a DFC. These volunteers are trained with the knowledge and skills to help persons living with dementia continue living independently and help families of persons living with dementia keep an eye on their loved ones. Today, more than 130,000 individuals from over 120 groups, businesses and organisations are aware about dementia under Dementia-Friendly Singapore and Lien Foundation’s Forget Us Not initiative.

Having a community that supports persons living with dementia helps these persons, their caregivers, and the people around them feel welcomed and respected. This can improve their overall health and well-being and reduce the strain on long-term care services. An enhanced quality of life in turn lowers the cost of dementia care in Singapore.

The strength of DFCs depends on networks of Dementia Friends who keep a look out for persons living with dementia in neighbourhoods and extend a helping hand when needed. If you would like to play a part, sign up as a Dementia Friend today!

Framework to Set Up a DFC

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Dementia-Friendly Singapore has implemented a Dementia-Friendly Community framework with strategies to Engage, Empower and Enable persons living with dementia including a Dementia Friends mobile app to seek community help for missing persons living with dementia.

ENGAGE

Community by raising dementia awareness to keep a lookout for people living with dementia through:

1. Outreach activities (residents, constituency offices, faith-based groups, corporates, service partners and schools)
2. Targeted screening (mood and memory screening)
3. Go-To Points

EMPOWER

Caregivers, clients and at-risk individuals with services and support that cater to their needs through:

1. Preventive activities
2. Caregiver support network
3. Services (service linkages, care coordination, intervention, case management)

ENABLE

Community and partners in adopting dementia-friendly designs so that people living with dementia can live well in the community through:

1. Environment enhancements (business and built environment)
2. Technology and innovation (dementia friends app, DFSG portal, DFSG Facebook, etc.)

Mental-Health

Find out how we can play a part and build a DFC:

Mental-Health
Mental-20Health

Building a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore: How Can You Play a Part?

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If you would like to organise a Dementia Awareness Workshop at your workplace, school or any other community space, you may contact academy@dementia.org.sg.

Organisations That Have Helped Build DFCs in Singapore

Corporates

● Building: Centre for Liveable Cities, Town Councils
● Arts & Leisure: National Library Board, National Heritage Board
● Banking: HSBC, DBS, Hong Leong Finance
● Retail: Guardian, Pure and Well
● Transport: SMRT, Grab

Community Partners

● Dementia Singapore (DSG)
● AMKFSC Community Services
● Singapore Anglican Community Services
● AWWA
● Brahm Centre
● Caregivers Alliance Limited
● Care Corner Seniors Services
● Charis ACE
● Club HEAL
● Fei Yue Community Services
● FILOS Community Services
● Montfort Care
● NTUC Health
● O’Joy Care Services
● Peace-CONNECT Cluster Support
● REACH Community Services
● Singapore Silver Ribbon
● St Hilda’s Community Services
● The Salvation Army – Peacehaven Bedok Day Centre
● Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities
● TOUCH Community Services
● TRANS Family Services
● Viriya Community Services

Additional Resources

In order to create an inclusive Dementia-Friendly Community (iDFC) in Kebun Baru (KB), a group of students from NUS Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre (CTPCLC) partners with Dementia Singapore (formerly known as Alzheimer’s Disease Association) to conduct a ground-sensing study to:

• Understand KB residents’ knowledge of and attitudes toward dementia;
• Uncover what a DFC means to them; and
• Explore what can be done to make KB dementia friendly.


This guide by the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) provides guidelines and recommendations for community partners to build DFCs across Singapore.

References

  1. Lin, Y. (2017, October 8). Singapore’s first dementia-friendly coffee shop. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/singapores-first-dementia-friendly-coffee-shop
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