Around 72 per cent of dementia patients in Singapore experience loneliness surrounding their condition, with over 54 per cent of the general public expressing their discomfort when interacting with individuals with dementia, according to a recent study done by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) and the Singapore Management University (SMU).
The 54 per cent included 30 per cent of caregivers who feel embarrassed when needing to take care of their loved ones with dementia in public.
Findings of the study also revealed that half of the dementia patients surveyed are not able to be open about their condition, while more than 56 per cent said that others treat them as less competent than those without dementia.
5,600 people in Singapore were surveyed by the ADA and SMU, comprising persons with dementia, caregivers and the general public.
Head of Academy of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association Koh Hwan Jing said that the stigma towards dementia largely stems from a “lack of awareness towards the condition, along with limited interaction, leading to fear, discomfort, or even apathy”.
Statistics from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) also reveal that over 80,000 people in Singapore are living with dementia, and the figures are expected to grow over 100,000 by 2030.
The numbers recorded by ADA, SMU and IMH reflect an urgent need to raise greater awareness regarding dementia, and to provide better support and care for those affected by the condition.
Recognising this urgent need, coupled with the rapid pace of technological developments in today’s world, on-demand home caregiving services platform Homage has launched the Homage CarePro Scholarship Program in collaboration with ADA to to provide dementia training for the company’s Care Professionals last Wed (31 Jul).
The 12 care professionals participated in classroom-based experiential learning activities, and underwent competency-based assessments to handle various situations when supporting people living with dementia.
Christina Quah, one of the professional caregivers who attended the session, said: “Each person with dementia is different; many of them do not share the same symptoms … Through this training program, we were able to better address how we can plan care for those with dementia in a more holistic way, while also learning about adding our own personal touch to treat them with the same level of dignity and respect as everyone else.”
Another care professional, Nathierah Kunju, said that the program was “a definite eye-opener” for her.
“Hearing from the experts made me better understand my personal caregiving experience, and apply that information to foster better care and understanding between myself and the care recipient living with dementia,” she added.
Launched in 2016, Homage, which merges qualified care professionals with smart technology, partnered with ADA in the first instalment of the program to conduct a four-day course on “Work with clients with dementia” with 12 professional caregivers.
The platform was established to help seniors obtain more personalised and holistic care that allows them to age at home with grace, control and dignity. The company does this by using its proprietary matching engine that pairs seniors with the best care professionals for their needs and managing care via the convenience of a mobile app.
CEO and co-founder of Homage Gillian Tee said: “Dementia is one of the central issues facing Singapore’s seniors, and greater awareness towards those affected by this condition – especially caregivers – will become more crucial as the nation ages.”
She added: “At Homage, we believe that improving the situation is centered around empowering our caregivers to be equipped and experienced in well-rounded dementia care … We are pleased to work with the ADA to train our care professionals so that they are better able to care for more people with dementia with the grace and dignity that they deserve.”
Homage’s partnership with the ADA also signifies the company’s efforts to tackle the problem of dementia on the ground, as part of its wider initiative to work with more public and private sector partners to expand the delivery of care to other societal segments in Singapore.
Head of Community and Outreach at Homage Melissa Chan said: “With this partnership, we are on the right track mobilising a caregiving force that can cater to the different needs of Singapore’s aged community”.
“However, our work with the ADA is merely the first of the dementia-centred initiatives we have in our pipeline, and we are looking to work closely with more partners in the ecosystem to holistically raise the standard of care that we can give to people living with dementia,” she added.
While the first instalment of the Homage CarePro Scholarship Program will focus on dementia, Homage seeks to collaborate with more community partners in the long run to improve care within other specific areas, such as stroke care, Parkinson’s Disease care, palliative care and max-assistance transfer training.
This article has been corrected to amend Ms Gillian Tee’s name. We apologise for the error.