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A community of care

9 October 2017 / by / no comments

A community of care

Bis­han East-​Thomson con­stituency becomes the sec­ond con­stituency after Yishun to join Lien Foundation’s For­get Us Not initiative.

BY: Eleanor Yap

[cap­tion id=“attachment_9256” align=“alignleft” width=“491”] Eunice Seah, the second-​generation owner of House of Braised Duck, being shown the placard.[/caption]

A famil­iar Bis­han land­mark, the 24-​hour Kim San Leng kopi­tiam, has taken the lead to come onboard a Lien Foun­da­tion ini­tia­tive, For­get Us Not, to build a dementia-​friendly Sin­ga­pore. The stall own­ers and staff of the 10 stalls have under­gone or will be under­go­ing an hour-​long free train­ing to learn about demen­tia, recog­nise its symp­toms and find ways to sup­port per­sons with demen­tia (PWDs) in the neighbourhood.

The staff at the kopi­tiam reg­u­larly serve seniors and some, who have demen­tia. Second-​generation owner of House of Braised Duck, Eunice Seah, shared about a reg­u­lar cus­tomer in her 70s who comes to her stall every­day by her­self and orders duck rice. After putting in her order, she would later order another one. “Her daugh­ter had told us to take care of her and to not let her over-​order or eat too much,” said the 32-​year-​old. She added the senior has been com­ing to her stall for over 26 years, and when she comes, they would not charge her for her meal.

She and her staff have gone through the train­ing and found it use­ful. “We have learned to be more patient with them and more tact­ful.” She shared that they would some­times hold the seniors’ arms a bit and they would be “appre­cia­tive of it”. Eunice shared that she usu­ally sees the same two seniors a month with dementia.

Besides the kopi­tiam, other stores in the Bis­han East-​Thomson con­stituency are keen to take up the train­ing. Owner of sundry shop, Bess 8, Loh Choon Seng, said the train­ing will help his four staff to iden­tify and treat those with demen­tia bet­ter. He shared that he has some seniors who would take his prod­ucts and leave with­out pay­ing, and his staff would approach them and talk to them. The train­ing will also help him and his staff under­stand more about demen­tia. “I am sup­port­ive of such train­ing as we are all age­ing,” said the 64-​year-​old.

The Bis­han East-​Thomson con­stituency is the sec­ond area after Yishun to join the For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive. The con­stituency, which has a precinct of 56,000 house­holds, is age­ing faster than most of Sin­ga­pore. The area has five per­cent of peo­ple aged 80 and older, dou­ble that of the national aver­age which stands at 2.5 per­cent. How­ever, there is no data as to how many in the area have dementia.

The For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive, which started two years ago, aims to build a com­mu­nity of care where as many peo­ple stretch­ing from the kopi­tiam stall­holder, bus dri­ver and cashier to the back teller, grass­roots lead­ers and the pub­lic are trained to sup­port those with demen­tia and help them lead active, engaged lives for as long as they can. Besides Kim San Leng kopi­tiam, oth­ers like the Bis­han Mer­chants’ Asso­ci­a­tion, Bis­han Com­mu­nity Club and REACH Fam­ily Ser­vice Cen­tre have also come onboard, and their staff, vol­un­teers and mem­bers will be under­go­ing the training.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_9258” align=“alignright” width=“349”] Bess 8 owner, Loh Choon Seng.[/caption]

Beyond the training

Tak­ing it a step fur­ther, there is also out­reach to the pub­lic. At Kim San Leng kopi­tiam, there are eye-​catching decals on the tables show­ing com­mon issues PWDs might face such as mix­ing up food condi­ments or for­get­ting the func­tion of every­day items. For instance, a pic­ture of a cup of tea with chilli float­ing on top high­lights how some­one with demen­tia may illog­i­cally ask for chilli to be added in the drink instead of sugar.

The decals, which were devel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with health­care pro­fes­sion­als, offer glimpses of some of the daily strug­gles of those cop­ing with the con­di­tion. They are designed to cap­ture pub­lic inter­est, fos­ter empa­thy, and spark ideas and dis­cus­sion on how the com­mu­nity can bet­ter sup­port PWDs and their care­givers. They also prompt peo­ple to learn more about the For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive and to sign up as a “demen­tia friend”. The stall own­ers also have a ref­er­ence plac­ard on what to do and what not to do when deal­ing with a PWD.

Still lots more to be done

The Well-​Being of the Sin­ga­pore Elderly (Wise) study released recently found that one in 10 peo­ple in Sin­ga­pore aged 60 and above have demen­tia, which works out to an esti­mated 78,000 peo­ple, most of whom will con­tinue to live in their homes. As age increases, the like­li­hood of those hav­ing demen­tia increases to one in two for those aged 80 and above. The study led by the Insti­tute of Men­tal Health (IMH) inter­viewed almost 5,000 seniors and their fam­ily mem­bers. The Wise Study esti­mates that half of peo­ple aged 85 or older nation­ally could have demen­tia. Demen­tia is incur­able; it inflicts care­giv­ing bur­den and robs the PWD of doing basic tasks. Explained Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foun­da­tion, “A dementia-​friendly com­mu­nity is really a senior-​friendly com­mu­nity and where demen­tia is normalised.”

The For­get Us Not ini­tia­tive has so far trained 700 staff in pub­lic trans­port, 3,000 staff in the finance indus­tries such as banks, and some retail­ers. In Yishun alone, there are 3,800 demen­tia friends. They have also made avail­able a Train the Train­ers guide where com­pa­nies can incor­po­rate the For­get Us Not train­ing con­tent into their reg­u­lar staff training.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_9257” align=“alignleft” width=“481”] Chong Kee Tiong, MP for Bishan-​Toa Payoh GRC; Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foun­da­tion; Hoon Thing Leong, group CEO, Kim San Leng; Edmund Lim, grass­roots leader, Bis­han East-​Thomson con­stituency; and other representatives.[/caption]

Plans are already afoot in Bishan-​East Thom­son to add to those num­bers and to train 3,000 demen­tia friends in a year and bring aware­ness of demen­tia to the con­stituency. In the next 12 months, Chong Kee Hiong, grass­roots adviser to Bishan-​Toa Payoh GRC GROS, and MP for Bishan-​Toh Payoh GRC, said they will be reach­ing out to more peo­ple and organ­i­sa­tions includ­ing schools, cof­feeshops, kopi­ti­ams, shops, banks, etc. There will also be some activ­i­ties planned like getai, talks and an art con­test for pri­mary and sec­ond schools sur­round­ing the theme – car­ing for our elderly, specif­i­cally those with dementia.

Added Poh Wah, “We are still far from our dream where dementia-​friendly com­mu­ni­ties can progress from being an excep­tion to the national norm. Many peo­ple with demen­tia still live iso­lated lives shrouded in stigma – which we hope we can change with time.”



Bishan East-Thomson constituency becomes the second constituency after Yishun to join Lien Foundation’s Forget Us Not initiative.

BY: Eleanor Yap

Eunice Seah, the second-generation owner of House of Braised Duck, being shown the placard.

A familiar Bishan landmark, the 24-hour Kim San Leng kopitiam, has taken the lead to come onboard a Lien Foundation initiative, Forget Us Not, to build a dementia-friendly Singapore. The stall owners and staff of the 10 stalls have undergone or will be undergoing an hour-long free training to learn about dementia, recognise its symptoms and find ways to support persons with dementia (PWDs) in the neighbourhood.

The staff at the kopitiam regularly serve seniors and some, who have dementia. Second-generation owner of House of Braised Duck, Eunice Seah, shared about a regular customer in her 70s who comes to her stall everyday by herself and orders duck rice. After putting in her order, she would later order another one. “Her daughter had told us to take care of her and to not let her over-order or eat too much,” said the 32-year-old. She added the senior has been coming to her stall for over 26 years, and when she comes, they would not charge her for her meal.

She and her staff have gone through the training and found it useful. “We have learned to be more patient with them and more tactful.” She shared that they would sometimes hold the seniors’ arms a bit and they would be “appreciative of it”. Eunice shared that she usually sees the same two seniors a month with dementia.

Besides the kopitiam, other stores in the Bishan East-Thomson constituency are keen to take up the training. Owner of sundry shop, Bess 8, Loh Choon Seng, said the training will help his four staff to identify and treat those with dementia better. He shared that he has some seniors who would take his products and leave without paying, and his staff would approach them and talk to them. The training will also help him and his staff understand more about dementia. “I am supportive of such training as we are all ageing,” said the 64-year-old.

The Bishan East-Thomson constituency is the second area after Yishun to join the Forget Us Not initiative. The constituency, which has a precinct of 56,000 households, is ageing faster than most of Singapore. The area has five percent of people aged 80 and older, double that of the national average which stands at 2.5 percent. However, there is no data as to how many in the area have dementia.

The Forget Us Not initiative, which started two years ago, aims to build a community of care where as many people stretching from the kopitiam stallholder, bus driver and cashier to the back teller, grassroots leaders and the public are trained to support those with dementia and help them lead active, engaged lives for as long as they can. Besides Kim San Leng kopitiam, others like the Bishan Merchants’ Association, Bishan Community Club and REACH Family Service Centre have also come onboard, and their staff, volunteers and members will be undergoing the training.

 

Bess 8 owner, Loh Choon Seng.

Beyond the training

Taking it a step further, there is also outreach to the public. At Kim San Leng kopitiam, there are eye-catching decals on the tables showing common issues PWDs might face such as mixing up food condiments or forgetting the function of everyday items. For instance, a picture of a cup of tea with chilli floating on top highlights how someone with dementia may illogically ask for chilli to be added in the drink instead of sugar.

The decals, which were developed in consultation with healthcare professionals, offer glimpses of some of the daily struggles of those coping with the condition. They are designed to capture public interest, foster empathy, and spark ideas and discussion on how the community can better support PWDs and their caregivers. They also prompt people to learn more about the Forget Us Not initiative and to sign up as a “dementia friend”. The stall owners also have a reference placard on what to do and what not to do when dealing with a PWD.

 

Still lots more to be done

The Well-Being of the Singapore Elderly (Wise) study released recently found that one in 10 people in Singapore aged 60 and above have dementia, which works out to an estimated 78,000 people, most of whom will continue to live in their homes. As age increases, the likelihood of those having dementia increases to one in two for those aged 80 and above. The study led by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) interviewed almost 5,000 seniors and their family members. The Wise Study estimates that half of people aged 85 or older nationally could have dementia. Dementia is incurable; it inflicts caregiving burden and robs the PWD of doing basic tasks. Explained Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foundation, “A dementia-friendly community is really a senior-friendly community and where dementia is normalised.”

The Forget Us Not initiative has so far trained 700 staff in public transport, 3,000 staff in the finance industries such as banks, and some retailers. In Yishun alone, there are 3,800 dementia friends. They have also made available a Train the Trainers guide where companies can incorporate the Forget Us Not training content into their regular staff training.

Chong Kee Tiong, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC; Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation; Hoon Thing Leong, group CEO, Kim San Leng; Edmund Lim, grassroots leader, Bishan East-Thomson constituency; and other representatives.

Plans are already afoot in Bishan-East Thomson to add to those numbers and to train 3,000 dementia friends in a year and bring awareness of dementia to the constituency. In the next 12 months, Chong Kee Hiong, grassroots adviser to Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC GROS, and MP for Bishan-Toh Payoh GRC, said they will be reaching out to more people and organisations including schools, coffeeshops, kopitiams, shops, banks, etc. There will also be some activities planned like getai, talks and an art contest for primary and second schools surrounding the theme – caring for our elderly, specifically those with dementia.

Added Poh Wah, “We are still far from our dream where dementia-friendly communities can progress from being an exception to the national norm. Many people with dementia still live isolated lives shrouded in stigma – which we hope we can change with time.”

 


 

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