Community Care providers
Family caregivers and friends of The Enabling Festival
Ladies and gentlemen
1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today at the fifth edition of The Enabling Festival, which aims to embrace, enhance, engage and provide for the enablement of persons living with dementia and their family caregivers.
2. Caregiving for persons with dementia is not easy. I would like to acknowledge the challenges and difficulties that many of you face.
3. In a survey of caregivers (including caregivers of persons with dementia), conducted by the Singapore Management University with the support of Caregiver Alliance Limited, Enable Asia and the Singapore Association for Mental Health in 2020, three in four caregivers felt the need for temporary separation from the person they care for. In addition, more than 72% voiced that they felt tired and exhausted from caregiving. It is, however, difficult for us to speak about it.
4. We also need to take care of our caregivers. Events like this help to create awareness of dementia. I am glad to see that The Enabling Festival is looking at how to better support and celebrate the work and challenges of caregivers. This is an important effort. There is a lot of love and patience that comes with this work, and I am glad that there is a whole community providing the love and support for patients.
5. The Festival shines a spotlight on family caregivers, who are often the invisible heroes. They experience high risk of burnout and we need to support them. I am heartened to see many activities for caregivers such as The Language of Touch, The Gift of Touch, Namaste Care, Caregivers Intimate Sharing Sessions, Art Therapy, Fidget Blanket and Somatic Movement workshops and even a panel discussion on The Last Touch, amongst many others.
6. In the community, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and community partners have established caregiver community outreach teams. These teams promote self-care through health and wellness activities, stress management, and link caregivers with peer support groups and counselling services where needed. We have also built Dementia-Friendly Communities, to raise awareness of dementia and to get the community to participate. We also have other support for caregivers, like respite care services which are available to help caregivers have some time off from caregiving duties. An example is Night Respite, which supports caregivers of seniors with dementia who experience behavioural and sleep issues at night. I hope that these are some of the services can be tapped on by caregivers, for them to take a break and recharge.
7. Beyond services, it is also important for caregivers to self-care and support one another as peers. I am aware that two caregivers who are here today, Danny and Daniel, have been proactive in attending skills training to better care for their loved ones, and have also gone beyond caregiving to provide peer-to-peer support for other family caregivers. This is the beauty of a community in Singapore – people who experience challenges themselves, share and provide support to others, so that there is a whole society behind us carrying the load and making it lighter.
8. Notwithstanding these efforts, to the general public, persons living with dementia and their caregivers’ wellbeing are still relatively less known. Unless they experience for themselves, they may not be fully aware of the challenges. Events and opportunities like these are therefore important. It is important to continue stepping up awareness through talks, sharing sessions and engagement activities at this Festival.
9. The focus of this year’s edition of The Enabling Festival leverages design, art and technology to make an impact in enabling persons living with dementia and their caregivers, as well as to improve their quality of life as we aspire to be a dementia-friendly Singapore.
10. Everyone plays a role. As individuals, each of us can play a part to create a dementia-friendly Singapore. The understanding, empathy and emotional support we give to persons living with dementia and their families are crucial and a great source of comfort to caregivers.
11. Employers, corporations, partners and donors play a part too, in creating this atmosphere for us to all be able to provide the support, love and patience to walk this journey together.
12. In closing, I would like to extend my congratulations to everyone who has made this Festival a success. I would also like to give a shout out to our caregivers here today, who are passionate advocates and have taken the lead to drive dementia awareness and empowering family caregivers at this annual event. It takes a whole-of-community approach and many helping hands to support persons living with dementia and their family caregivers in the community.
13. With this, I am pleased to announce The Enabling Festival 2022, open! Thank you.
 SMU Press Release – Need for temporary separation from the person they care for (9 Dec 2020)