SMRT MRT stations and bus interchanges to be turned into care centres

The Go-To SMRT initiative aims to make transport nodes the first place people turn to when they need help. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM SMRT/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Unable to find your child? Come across a confused senior citizen who cannot remember his address? Go to the nearest MRT station or bus interchange for help.

Transport operator SMRT is turning its transport nodes into care centres that can better serve those in need in the neighbourhood.

A total of 17 of its train stations and five bus interchanges have been listed as dementia go-to points, where the community can learn more about dementia and be linked to dementia-related services, the company said on Monday (April 26).

Over the next two years, SMRT staff will also be trained to handle a variety of situations, from administering first aid to finding missing children. These are already "commonly encountered within the network", it said.

Mr Neo Kian Hong, group chief executive officer of SMRT Corporation, said the initiative was a key part of the operator's service ethos.

"Running safe, reliable and commuter-centric train and bus journeys remains our top priority," he added.

Called the Go-To SMRT initiative, the suite of additional services aims to make transport nodes the first place people turn to when they require help.

This effectively broadens SMRT's services beyond its network to serve communities around its MRT stations and bus interchanges, turning them into care hubs in the community.

Chairman of SMRT Corporation Seah Moon Ming said this would be done with "great respect, empathy, humility and care".

There are currently more than 200 dementia go-to-points spread across the island, tackling a health problem that is expected to worsen as the population ages in Singapore.

Currently, one in 10 Singaporeans aged 60 and above has dementia, which refers to a set of symptoms that include memory problems, as well as mood and behavioural changes.

These often come with age as the brain is damaged by certain diseases, of which Alzheimer's is the most common.

Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, chief executive officer of the Agency for Integrated Care, said MRT stations and bus interchanges are convenient and accessible points where those with dementia can seek help.

By equipping SMRT staff with the proper knowledge, those with dementia and their caregivers can feel more supported, helping them "live and age well". Staff will also be able to keep a lookout for them.

By working with specialist organisations like the Agency for Integrated Care, the Alzheimer's Disease Association and Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, scenario-based training has been added to SMRT front-line staff's curriculum.

SMRT is also adding QR codes within the 17 selected SMRT train stations and five bus interchanges that will serve as a digital concierge service. By scanning these, commuters will have access to maps showing the amenities available in the area, such as first aid rooms, and be able to see train and bus timings and other travel information.

The 17 MRT stations under the scheme are:

- Jurong
- Yishun
- Simei
- Novena
- Kent Ridge
- Aljunied
- Bugis
- Kembangan
- Lakeside
- Lavender
- Paya Lebar
- Redhill
- Queenstown
- Ang Mo Kio
- Buona Vista
- Bishan
- Canberra

The five bus interchanges are:

- Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub
- Yishun Integrated Transport Hub
- Choa Chu Kang Bus Interchange
- Sembawang Bus Interchange
- Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange

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