Nee Soon estate to get features to aid those with dementia

Madam Yong Fui Yin and her husband Ho Shien Joo, who was diagnosed with mild dementia in January, are looking forward to the new features in their Nee Soon South neighbourhood.
Madam Yong Fui Yin and her husband Ho Shien Joo, who was diagnosed with mild dementia in January, are looking forward to the new features in their Nee Soon South neighbourhood.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Colours and icons on HDB blocks, clearer signs to help sufferers find their way home

To help dementia patients find their way home, 22 Housing Board blocks in Nee Soon South and Chong Pang will be getting fresh coats of paint in red, green and blue from next February.

Similar to zoned carparks, the blocks will also feature icons - pineapples for red blocks, fish for blue blocks and rubber trees for green blocks. Block numbers will be painted prominently on the sides of the blocks and their pillars.

Plans for such features and other infrastructural upgrades such as clearer signage and more resting places were unveiled yesterday.

The features are based on recommendations by experts on dementia such as Dr Philip Yap, a senior consultant at the department of geriatric medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).

They are intended to compensate for the physical and cognitive deficits that people with dementia may have, Dr Yap said.

"If a person with dementia were to ask for help, or if somebody were to find him looking lost, even if he cannot remember exactly which block he lives in, he might be able to recall the colour or icon. This will help people to lead him back to where he lives."

The project is a collaboration between Nee Soon South grassroots organisations, the Agency for Integrated Care, Nee Soon Town Council, KTPH and the GoodLife! @Yishun centre, which is run by social service agency Montfort Care. The team chose blocks in high-traffic areas near Nee Soon South Community Club and Chong Pang City.

 
 
 
 

Announcing the plans yesterday, Ms Lee Bee Wah, grassroots adviser and an MP for Nee Soon GRC, noted that one in 10 people aged 60 years and above has dementia.

"We urgently need to make our community dementia-friendly, make it a place where a person with dementia can still go downstairs for coffee, talk with friends, join community activities. All this will slow the progress of their dementia," she said, adding that Nee Soon is the first community to adopt dementia-friendly infrastructure.

Nee Soon South residents like Madam Yong Fui Yin, 66, and her husband, Mr Ho Shien Joo, 70, are looking forward to the upgrades.

Mr Ho was diagnosed with mild dementia in January.

Madam Yong, who is Mr Ho's caregiver, said her husband once got lost and had to ask for help from a passer-by. "He gave the wrong block number because he had forgotten it. That made me worry," she said in Mandarin.

Mr Ho said the new features will let seniors like him go out independently with more peace of mind.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2019, with the headline 'Nee Soon estate to get features to aid those with dementia'. Print Edition | Subscribe