Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, CEO, Agency for Integrated Care
Ladies & gentlemen
Good afternoon. I am happy to be here today at the launch of Dementia-FriendlySG Movement, a new milestone of the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative.
Dementia in Singapore
2 Dementia is a syndrome that leads to the deterioration in brain function. It impacts memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, language and judgement. Dementia affects people all over the world, and especially countries where there is an ageing population.
3 In Singapore, it is estimated that 1 in 10 seniors aged 60 and above has dementia. As the population ages, more are expected to have dementia.
4 In 2012, the Ministry of Health (MOH) appointed the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to implement the Community Mental Health (CMH) Masterplan. The plan aims to build an integrated mental health ecosystem, with hospitals, polyclinics and community care partners working closely to support persons with dementia or mental health conditions and their caregivers. Through the CMH Masterplan, persons living with dementia have been able to seek treatment closer to their home and receive support in the community.
Building Dementia-Friendly Communities
5 In 2016, MOH and AIC launched the Dementia-Friendly Singapore (DFSG) initiative under the Community Mental Health Masterplan. Under this initiative, we developed Dementia-Friendly Communities or DFCs where residents, businesses and services, and the community are aware of dementia and community members understand how to make their neighborhood safe and easy to navigate in. A community where persons with dementia and their families feel safe, comfortable, loved and respected. AIC led the development of DFCs in collaboration with volunteers, community leaders, schools, healthcare partners, merchants and government agencies. To date, 15 DFCs have been established.
6 A key feature of the DFCs is Go-To Points. These points serve as dementia resource centres and act as safe return points for persons with dementia who are lost. Over the last few years, AIC has been able to on-board new organisations as Go-To-Points, with the latest addition of Sheng Siong, NTUC FairPrice and our public transport operators, SMRT, SBS Transit, Go-Ahead Singapore and Tower Transit Singapore. By end 2022, these four public transport operators will have all their transport nodes listed as Go-To Points. I am heartened to see so many business partners and merchants supporting our dementia initiatives and hope that more will join us in our journey in building a safe place for persons with dementia to live in.
7 In addition to DFCs, there has been further support from the community. Under Walk2Remember, a community event championed by Dementia Singapore, Ang Mo Kio network partners and AIC, the community comes together to raise awareness on dementia and those impacted by it. Other initiatives include the Esplanade’s “Sing Out Loud!” Project; a programme to engage persons with dementia and their caregivers through singing. These passionate community partners help to make the community a better place for persons with dementia to live in. I urge all of you to continue with these meaningful efforts to create a better place for persons with dementia.
Dementia-Friendly Singapore Movement
8 Today, it is my pleasure to introduce the next phase of the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative, the Dementia-FriendlySG (DFSG) movement. The DFSG movement is a national effort to support people with dementia. Together, we can “Lend a Helping Friend, Be a Dementia Friend” – the slogan for this movement.
9 The DFSG movement will expand the current dementia-friendly initiatives. In addition to the existing Dementia-Friendly Communities, individuals, corporations and communities can play a part in supporting and caring for persons with dementia. The movement will strengthen established dementia-friendly networks through better service integration. We hope that it will spur the development of more Dementia-Friendly Communities, provide more dementia resources through go-to-points, and generate more dementia-friendly efforts through partnerships with more organisations. Collectively, these efforts will translate into better care for persons with dementia.
10 I am also pleased to announce the strategic partnership AIC has forged with Dementia Singapore. AIC and Dementia Singapore have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and we will be witnessing the exchange of the MOU later today. Through this MOU, there will be more collaborative efforts to co-develop resources, build capabilities, and explore joint efforts to meet the needs of communities.
11 As you can see from the exhibition, everyone can be involved in supporting persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Simple acts of kindness, empathy, encouragement, and support towards persons living with dementia, and their families, go a long way.
12 I hope that you will help share the DFSG movement with your networks and those around you. Together, we can build a caring society and become a truly dementia-friendly Singapore.