St John Singapore opens dementia daycare centre to cater to growing need

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee (centre) speaks to a dementia patient at the St John Singapore Dementia Centre on Oct 22, 2019. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - St John Singapore has opened its first dementia daycare centre to cater to a growing need for such services amid a rise in incidents of the disorder.

The centre, located next to its headquarters along Beach Road, was officially launched by Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee on Tuesday (Oct 22).

The $3-million St John Singapore Dementia Centre features an outdoor garden, karaoke area and even a photo-wall of Singapore's yesteryears.

St John Singapore, previously known as St John Ambulance Singapore, is a non-profit organisation traditionally known for providing ambulance service and first aid to the community. With its latest dementia daycare centre, it plans to expand its services to the elderly.

Commending St John Singapore on serving dementia patients and their families, Mr Lee said: "This daycare centre will provide much-needed respite for many caregivers who face heavy responsibilities managing and caring for their loved ones with dementia daily, as well as assure them that their loved ones are appropriately cared for with dignity and respect."

The three-storey building was completed at the end of 2017 and started operating in April 2018. It has spaces for physical and cognitive activities, as well as a training area for staff.

The dementia care centre now serves 15 seniors with dementia. It can handle 30 people and may be expanded to accommodate more if needed.

It costs about $12 a day after subsidies - or $60 a day without subsidies - to send a senior with dementia to the centre.

Mr Albert Choong, chief executive of St John Singapore, said: "With dementia numbers rising, we hope to be able to expand our services to help the elderly with the daycare centre. The community needs it."

Dementia is a general term for the set of symptoms associated with cognitive decline caused by different diseases, of which Alzheimer's disease is the most common.

These symptoms include memory loss, poor judgment, problems with keeping track of things, mood changes and others. Someone with dementia may repeat his questions, get lost frequently while driving or feel overwhelmed by new situations.

According to the Alzheimer's Disease Association, around 82,000 people in Singapore are affected by dementia. The number is expected to rise to beyond 100,000 by 2030.

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