Plans for national database of patients put on hold

Patients going through the Alzheimer’s Disease Association Simulated Presence Therapy.
Patients going through the Alzheimer’s Disease Association Simulated Presence Therapy. PHOTO: ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE ASSOCIATION

Plans to develop a national database of dementia patients here have been put on the backburner as the authorities focus on building "community networks" to support those with the condition instead.

The Sunday Times reported in January last year that the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA), Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the police held talks to create a national registry.

A national database would hold patients' details so they can be easily identified and their caregivers contacted. It would be useful if, say, a patient is lost, or wrongly accused of stealing after forgetting to pay a bill.

ADA chief executive officer Jason Foo said: "We want to do it, but we need to train enough volunteers first. There is no point asking caregivers to leave details in a database if there is no one in the community to help them."

Dr Tan Weng Mooi, chief of the community mental health division at AIC, said a registry remains a work in progress. She added: "We did quick surveys during talks... some felt worried about having such details in a registry."

Currently, the Ministry of Health has details of people diagnosed with dementia, and ADA maintains a database of those who have come to it for help, but a national registry does not exist. The closest to this is a registry held by the Yishun North Neighbourhood Police Centre as part of the dementia-friendly community initiative launched in Yishun last year.

For a national registry to be set up, Dr Tan said the authorities need to resolve issues such as management of the database and access to it.

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Plans for national database of patients put on hold'. Print Edition | Subscribe