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Let’s not forget dementia

20 January 2016 / by / 1 comment

Let's not forget dementia

An ini­tia­tive by Lien Foun­da­tion and Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal to help the pub­lic under­stand those with dementia.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_7021” align=“alignleft” width=“300”]Launch of the Forget Us Not initiative – centre is Dr Philip Yap, director of KTPH’s Geriatric Centre with Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation. Launch of the For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive – cen­tre is Dr Philip Yap, direc­tor of KTPH’s Geri­atric Cen­tre with Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation.[/caption]

With the rise of per­sons with demen­tia (PWDs) in Sin­ga­pore, Lien Foun­da­tion and Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal (KTPH) has been fos­ter­ing in Yishun a com­mu­nity that under­stands, embraces and sup­ports PWDs and their careers. To help to do this even fur­ther, they have launched an ini­tia­tive called For­get Us Not, where they are invit­ing those in Yishun and beyond to respect, value and sup­port PWDs.

This multi-​prong effort com­prises of music videos, a short film, social media video exper­i­ments, handy guides and getais to draw pub­lic sup­port for demen­tia suf­fer­ers. Said Lien Foundation’s CEO Lee Poh Wah, “Because of its preva­lence and high cost to soci­ety, we need to make dementia-​friendly com­mu­ni­ties the ‘new nor­mal’ in Sin­ga­pore, start­ing with Yishun – which has an elderly pop­u­la­tion and estab­lished net­work of sup­port from KTPH.” In Yishun, there are 201,970 res­i­dents with 9.6 per­cent who are 65 years and above, and 1.7 per­cent who are 80 years and above.

Lee added: “Often, per­sons with demen­tia get stig­ma­tised. The shame asso­ci­ated with demen­tia is exac­er­bated when peo­ple do not under­stand its symp­toms and react poorly towards demen­tia suf­fer­ers. As demen­tia touches a wide spec­trum of soci­ety, we need to encour­age early diag­no­sis and can­did con­ver­sa­tions on this issue, so we can move from iso­la­tion and insti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion, to inclusion.”

This is not some­thing new as other coun­tries have already been putting in place dementia-​friendly ini­tia­tives. In Japan, there is a vol­un­teer ini­tia­tive called Demen­tia Friends, which got started in 2005. The net­work has six mil­lion and it hopes to have eight mil­lion by 2025. UK has mir­rored this ini­tia­tive in 2013 and last year, it has one mil­lion Demen­tia Friends across Eng­land and Wales. In the US, there is a Demen­tia Friendly Amer­ica Ini­tia­tive, which was announced last year and drew par­tic­i­pa­tion from more than 50 national organ­i­sa­tions seek­ing to make dementia-​friendly com­mu­ni­ties across the US.

Efforts in Yishun

In Sin­ga­pore, today, over 6,000 peo­ple and busi­nesses have par­tic­i­pated in edu­ca­tional talks on demen­tia and train­ing ses­sions held by KTPH in the last six months. They come from Yishun and other parts of Sin­ga­pore, and rep­re­sent all walks of life and soci­ety, from local busi­nesses to MNCs – like North Point Shop­ping Cen­tre, Capi­tol Opti­cal and McDonald’s; stu­dents from the National Uni­ver­sity of Sin­ga­pore and Nanyang Poly­tech­nic; and reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions like Evan­gel Fam­ily Church and Darul Mak­mur Mosque. Also to come on board are organ­i­sa­tions such as Sheng Siong Super­mar­ket, the National Library Board and People’s Association.

Dr Philip Yap, direc­tor of KTPH’s Geri­atric Cen­tre, said, “With every­one chip­ping in, we hope Yishun will be a place where PWDs feel included, respected and val­ued. Here, they can get around safely and con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate mean­ing­fully in their usual rou­tines because mem­bers of their com­mu­nity, be it a favourite neigh­bour, shop­keeper or local police­man, can under­stand and assist them. Hav­ing such com­mu­nity sup­port is a boost for PWDs and their fam­i­lies. It can help PWDs age-​in-​place and con­tinue to stay plugged into society.”

To assist the pub­lic, PWDs and their car­ers, staff from the call-​centre of KTPH and the new Yishun Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal, as well as secu­rity per­son­nel, have under­gone train­ing in demen­tia. Other front­line staff such as those located in public-​facing areas of the hos­pi­tal will also be trained pro­gres­sively. The Lien Foun­da­tion and KTPH hope the aware­ness and vibrant net­work of com­mu­nity sup­port found in Yishun will inspire other estates in Sin­ga­pore to become dementia-​friendly too.

Also, the Yishun North Neigh­bour­hood Police Cen­tre has played a key role in sup­port­ing the For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive through their com­mu­nity net­work. Over 80 Yishun res­i­dents who are part of the estate’s Citizens-​on-​Patrol have been trained to detect, respond and assist should they meet PWDs dur­ing the patrols. Bernard John, vice-​chairman and leader of the Citizens-​on-​Patrol for Chong Pang Zone 8 RC, said, “With the train­ing, we are now bet­ter pre­pared when we meet per­sons with demen­tia or the elderly who may be in dis­tress. We hope that as the pub­lic becomes more aware and under­stand­ing towards per­sons with demen­tia, they can be part of our sup­port net­work in Yishun and the larger community.”

[cap­tion id=“attachment_7022” align=“alignright” width=“300”]individuals and organisations who have signed up as Dementia Friends and Dementia-Friendly organisations, including NYP and the Singapore Police Force. Indi­vid­u­als and organ­i­sa­tions who have signed up as Demen­tia Friends and dementia-​friendly organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing NYP and the Sin­ga­pore Police Force.[/caption]

To boost the bud­ding dementia-​friendly com­mu­nity, the For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive is ral­ly­ing the pub­lic to sup­port and sign up as Demen­tia Friends at on the For­get Us Not web­site. Demen­tia Friends will each receive a hand­book on demen­tia with tips on how to recog­nise com­mon symp­toms of demen­tia, and what to do dur­ing an encounter with a PWD. To be fur­ther equipped, they can attend train­ing ses­sions con­ducted by KTPH. Demen­tia Friends are also advo­cates for Sin­ga­pore to become a dementia-​friendly community.

The ini­tia­tive is also reach­ing out to train more organ­i­sa­tions to become dementia-​friendly enti­ties and inter­ested par­ties can e-​mail to info@​forgetusnot.​sg for more details. Staff of these busi­nesses or organ­i­sa­tions will receive train­ing on demen­tia from KTPH. As a sign of their com­mit­ment and sup­port, a “Dementia-​Friendly” decal will be pro­vided for them to dis­play on their premises.

The train­ing on demen­tia has paid off for staff of McDonald’s Sin­ga­pore. Fad­zli Hussen, direc­tor, Gov­ern­ment Rela­tions, said, “We are now more knowl­edge­able about per­sons with demen­tia and their issues and con­cerns. This means we are in bet­ter posi­tion to respond with more under­stand­ing, care and respect. We now also know which par­ties to con­tact if we need addi­tional help.”

Ral­ly­ing support

After attend­ing KTPH’s demen­tia train­ing, some 30 Nanyang Poly­tech­nic stu­dents took to the streets of Yishun to con­duct a sur­vey on 30 shops and busi­nesses. They found that 80 per­cent of those sur­veyed were open to learn­ing more about demen­tia and would con­sider being a dementia-​friendly organ­i­sa­tion. Besides Yishun, these stu­dents have planned to expand their out­reach to Ang Mo Kio, and recruit more Demen­tia Friends.

The Lit­tle Red Ants Cre­ative Stu­dio has also pro­duced a five-​minute film on what a dementia-​friendly com­mu­nity is like. Trail­ers intro­duc­ing the film will be shown in Golden Vil­lage, Yishun, dur­ing the Chi­nese New Year period. In addi­tion, Sin­ga­pore con­cert pro­duc­tion com­pany Live­house has cre­ated a music video where PWDs from KTPH and two nurs­ing homes par­tic­i­pated in a heart­warm­ing ren­di­tion of pop­u­lar Chi­nese ever­green. The video can be seen on the For­get Us Not website.

Fur­ther out­reach for For­get Us Not will be through the press, bus-​stop ads, videos of social exper­i­ments to uncover good Samar­i­tans by The Hid­den Good, social media humour by SGAG (the local ver­sion of inter­na­tional 9GAG humour site), and celebri­ties’ road­shows in Yishun to recruit more Demen­tia Friends. Res­i­dents in Yishun can look for­ward to two getais to be held in March in their estate.

(** PHOTO CRED­ITS: Man­date Communications)



An initiative by Lien Foundation and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to help the public understand those with dementia.

 

Launch of the Forget Us Not initiative – centre is Dr Philip Yap, director of KTPH’s Geriatric Centre with Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation.

Launch of the Forget Us Not initiative – centre is Dr Philip Yap, director of KTPH’s Geriatric Centre with Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation.

With the rise of persons with dementia (PWDs) in Singapore, Lien Foundation and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) has been fostering in Yishun a community that understands, embraces and supports PWDs and their careers. To help to do this even further, they have launched an initiative called Forget Us Not, where they are inviting those in Yishun and beyond to respect, value and support PWDs.

This multi-prong effort comprises of music videos, a short film, social media video experiments, handy guides and getais to draw public support for dementia sufferers. Said Lien Foundation’s CEO Lee Poh Wah, “Because of its prevalence and high cost to society, we need to make dementia-friendly communities the ‘new normal’ in Singapore, starting with Yishun – which has an elderly population and established network of support from KTPH.” In Yishun, there are 201,970 residents with 9.6 percent who are 65 years and above, and 1.7 percent who are 80 years and above.

Lee added: “Often, persons with dementia get stigmatised. The shame associated with dementia is exacerbated when people do not understand its symptoms and react poorly towards dementia sufferers. As dementia touches a wide spectrum of society, we need to encourage early diagnosis and candid conversations on this issue, so we can move from isolation and institutionalisation, to inclusion.”

This is not something new as other countries have already been putting in place dementia-friendly initiatives. In Japan, there is a volunteer initiative called Dementia Friends, which got started in 2005. The network has six million and it hopes to have eight million by 2025. UK has mirrored this initiative in 2013 and last year, it has one million Dementia Friends across England and Wales. In the US, there is a Dementia Friendly America Initiative, which was announced last year and drew participation from more than 50 national organisations seeking to make dementia-friendly communities across the US.

 

Efforts in Yishun

In Singapore, today, over 6,000 people and businesses have participated in educational talks on dementia and training sessions held by KTPH in the last six months. They come from Yishun and other parts of Singapore, and represent all walks of life and society, from local businesses to MNCs – like North Point Shopping Centre, Capitol Optical and McDonald’s; students from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic; and religious organisations like Evangel Family Church and Darul Makmur Mosque. Also to come on board are organisations such as Sheng Siong Supermarket, the National Library Board and People’s Association.

Dr Philip Yap, director of KTPH’s Geriatric Centre, said, “With everyone chipping in, we hope Yishun will be a place where PWDs feel included, respected and valued. Here, they can get around safely and continue to participate meaningfully in their usual routines because members of their community, be it a favourite neighbour, shopkeeper or local policeman, can understand and assist them. Having such community support is a boost for PWDs and their families. It can help PWDs age-in-place and continue to stay plugged into society.”

To assist the public, PWDs and their carers, staff from the call-centre of KTPH and the new Yishun Community Hospital, as well as security personnel, have undergone training in dementia. Other frontline staff such as those located in public-facing areas of the hospital will also be trained progressively. The Lien Foundation and KTPH hope the awareness and vibrant network of community support found in Yishun will inspire other estates in Singapore to become dementia-friendly too.

Also, the Yishun North Neighbourhood Police Centre has played a key role in supporting the Forget Us Not initiative through their community network. Over 80 Yishun residents who are part of the estate’s Citizens-on-Patrol have been trained to detect, respond and assist should they meet PWDs during the patrols. Bernard John, vice-chairman and leader of the Citizens-on-Patrol for Chong Pang Zone 8 RC, said, “With the training, we are now better prepared when we meet persons with dementia or the elderly who may be in distress. We hope that as the public becomes more aware and understanding towards persons with dementia, they can be part of our support network in Yishun and the larger community.”

individuals and organisations who have signed up as Dementia Friends and Dementia-Friendly organisations, including NYP and the Singapore Police Force.

Individuals and organisations who have signed up as Dementia Friends and dementia-friendly organisations, including NYP and the Singapore Police Force.

To boost the budding dementia-friendly community, the Forget Us Not initiative is rallying the public to support and sign up as Dementia Friends at on the Forget Us Not website. Dementia Friends will each receive a handbook on dementia with tips on how to recognise common symptoms of dementia, and what to do during an encounter with a PWD. To be further equipped, they can attend training sessions conducted by KTPH. Dementia Friends are also advocates for Singapore to become a dementia-friendly community.

The initiative is also reaching out to train more organisations to become dementia-friendly entities and interested parties can e-mail to info@forgetusnot.sg for more details. Staff of these businesses or organisations will receive training on dementia from KTPH. As a sign of their commitment and support, a “Dementia-Friendly” decal will be provided for them to display on their premises.

The training on dementia has paid off for staff of McDonald’s Singapore. Fadzli Hussen, director, Government Relations, said, “We are now more knowledgeable about persons with dementia and their issues and concerns. This means we are in better position to respond with more understanding, care and respect. We now also know which parties to contact if we need additional help.”

 

Rallying support

After attending KTPH’s dementia training, some 30 Nanyang Polytechnic students took to the streets of Yishun to conduct a survey on 30 shops and businesses. They found that 80 percent of those surveyed were open to learning more about dementia and would consider being a dementia-friendly organisation. Besides Yishun, these students have planned to expand their outreach to Ang Mo Kio, and recruit more Dementia Friends.

The Little Red Ants Creative Studio has also produced a five-minute film on what a dementia-friendly community is like. Trailers introducing the film will be shown in Golden Village, Yishun, during the Chinese New Year period. In addition, Singapore concert production company Livehouse has created a music video where PWDs from KTPH and two nursing homes participated in a heartwarming rendition of popular Chinese evergreen. The video can be seen on the Forget Us Not website.

Further outreach for Forget Us Not will be through the press, bus-stop ads, videos of social experiments to uncover good Samaritans by The Hidden Good, social media humour by SGAG (the local version of international 9GAG humour site), and celebrities’ roadshows in Yishun to recruit more Dementia Friends. Residents in Yishun can look forward to two getais to be held in March in their estate.

 

(** PHOTO CREDITS: Mandate Communications)

 


 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Stephen Teng says:

    Prevention is better than cure, agree? Why then is no one advocating the use of Mother Nature provided by the Creator to prevent dementia in our midst? It has been proven that coconut oil (2 teaspoonfuls daily) or turmeric powder (one teaspoonful daily) for people above 45 can prevent dementia. This is already done in USA. The main cause of dementia is blockage/plaque in brain cells, rendering the brain cells as uncommunicative. Our brain cells work 24/7 since birth. So, is it any wonder without any maintenance, our brain cells will accumulate plaques thus breaking?

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