Forum: Time to review use of SkillsFuture credits for dementia-related programmes

The Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) must commend Ms Teh Lay Eng for her letter in The Straits Times Forum page (SkillsFuture: Allow credits to be used for dementia programmes, Nov 10).

SkillsFuture Credit is an incentive programme for the population at large to upskill and stay relevant in this fast-changing world. While many people with disability have utilised the scheme to access courses that help them gain new skills and improve their lives, people living with dementia have not been able to do that and hence have not benefited from the scheme.

Many people with dementia are losing their cognitive ability to perform common day-to-day tasks. Attending sessions at dementia day care centres is a way to help them relearn, engage and maintain their cognitive abilities.

Case in point: ADA's Family of Wisdom centres conduct weekly three-hour enrichment programmes for people with dementia in small groups according to their stage of dementia, spoken language, age, and literacy level. At these sessions, our clients pick up new skills and interests that include arts and crafts, baking, dancing, photography and singing.

We also offer digital immersion sessions that help our clients learn how to operate simple digital devices such as tablets.

All these programmes are key to our work to ensure people with dementia continue to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Hence we agree with Ms Teh that, for Singapore to be truly inclusive, the SkillsFuture Credit scheme must be tweaked so that people living with dementia can have equal opportunity to use their credits for activities that are relevant to them. The credits of people with dementia can then be put to good use to benefit them and, at the same time, lessen the financial burden on their families.

Over the past couple of years, ADA has been urging the authorities to allow SkillsFuture credits to be utilised for certain dementia-related programmes and services.

As we strive towards building a dementia-inclusive society amid a rapidly ageing population, this is the right time for a review.

Jason Foo, 
Chief Executive Officer, 
Alzheimer's Disease Association