Symbols of traditional items used to help people with dementia navigate Chinatown MRT station

Brightly coloured stickers with nostalgic symbols placed at Chinatown MRT station to help people with dementia. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
This is the first time the symbols and arrows will be used in an MRT station as part of the Find Your Way initiative. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
This is the first time the symbols and arrows will be used in an MRT station as part of the Find Your Way initiative. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
This is the first time the symbols and arrows will be used in an MRT station as part of the Find Your Way initiative. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Symbols of a red lantern, a yellow tiffin box, a green rotary dial telephone, a blue plastic carrier bag and an orange bamboo basket, along with arrows in the same colours, have been installed at strategic locations in Chinatown MRT station. They are meant to help people with dementia and the elderly exit the station and get to their destinations.

This is the first time the symbols and arrows are being used in an MRT station, and is the second instalment of the Helping Persons Living with Dementia Find Your Way initiative, which was first rolled out at Toa Payoh bus interchange in February.

The initiative is a collaboration between Dementia Singapore and SBS Transit, and aims to help individuals with dementia navigate MRT stations and get to their destinations.

Mr Jason Foo, chief executive of Dementia Singapore, said the items for the symbols were selected for their nostalgic value and the bright colours would naturally offer better visibility.

"We spoke to people with dementia as well as their caregivers to find out what works for them... using strong primary colours is distinct and helps to avoid confusion, and the symbols are easily recognisable for individuals who have formed a strong memory or association with the items," he added.

Mr Foo was speaking after a tour of the Chinatown station on Wednesday (Aug 17) with the guest of honour, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, and Sustainability and the Environment, Baey Yam Keng.

People with dementia lose various aspects of their cognitive functions such as memory, and thinking or reasoning abilities in varying degrees.

The initiative will be progressively extended to four other MRT stations and three more bus interchanges, said SBS Transit CEO Cheng Siak Kian.

They are: Mattar, Boon Keng, Kovan and Geylang Bahru MRT stations, and Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay and Hougang Central bus interchanges.

Madam Emily Ong, who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2017 and works part-time as an internship supervisor, was among those who helped develop the idea.

The 55-year-old said: "Hopefully, there will be feedback (from the public) and then we can improve on it because we also want to cater to those living with other intellectual disabilities."

The Find Your Way initiative complements Dementia Go-To-Points (GTPs), both under the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative, supported by the Agency for Integrated Care.

The GTPs, which were launched in February, are located at passenger service counters of bus interchanges and MRT stations. Members of the public can take people with dementia who appear be lost to these GTPs.

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