Community care support for dementia patients, caregivers

Dr Allyn Hum ("Help dementia patients live - and die - with dignity"; July 5) and Dr Quek Koh Choon ("More advanced home care, support needed to tackle dementia"; July 8) raised important issues regarding better support for those with dementia and their caregivers.

The Ministry of Health and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) are working to improve this, so that they can continue to lead dignified lives.

We are working with partners in the community to increase the capacity of dementia daycare. Today, our eldercare centres can look after more than 1,000 seniors with dementia at any one time. We target to increase this to 3,000 by 2020.

Partners like the Alzheimer's Disease Association and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities also engage seniors with dementia at home with activities that provide mental stimulation.

For those caring for their loved ones with dementia at home, there are subsidies for caregivers' training. Under the Caregivers Training Grant, annual subsidies of up to $200 are provided for caregivers, including foreign domestic workers, to attend courses to build up their skills and lower their risks of caregiver burnout.

It is also important that we raise dementia awareness and support persons with dementia to age in the community through public education and community support. This year, the AIC developed a dementia toolkit to help seniors and their caregivers better recognise early signs of dementia and its management.

Dementia-friendly communities were also launched in areas like MacPherson and Hong Kah North to create a more caring and inclusive society for seniors with dementia.

In addition, our 14 community resource, engagement and support teams (Crest) will continue to provide outreach and assistance to 47,000 at-risk seniors islandwide.

To care for those with dementia towards the end of their lives, we are piloting new palliative care programmes, such as Temasek Cares-Programme Dignity, and will continue to share learning points with the sector.

While we work to enhance dementia care, we also aim to delay the onset of dementia in seniors as far as possible through initiatives that promote healthy living, active ageing and social engagement, such as those under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing.

More information can be found at www.successful-ageing.sg

Ageing in place requires us to work together to support seniors in the community. We invite members of the public and caregivers to visit www.silverpages.sg to find out the full range of support available for dementia patients and their caregivers.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

Andy Seet

Director, Corporate and Marketing Communications

Agency for Integrated Care

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Community care support for dementia patients, caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe