SMRT partners social service agencies to help commuters with special needs

SMRT staff guiding a visually handicapped person at the Yishun Integrated Transport Hub on Aug 23, 2019. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Transport operator SMRT aims to get its staff better equipped to help people with disabilities and dementia through an agreement it signed on Friday (Aug 23) with five agencies.

Five SMRT Buses employees have been trained by three of the agencies - the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Guide Dogs Singapore and the Handicaps Welfare Association - on how to approach and help commuters with disabilities and dementia.

They have then gone on to train an initial group of 40 of their SMRT colleagues.

The training includes how to identify people with dementia, how to approach and communicate with them, and how to reunite them with their families.

AIC chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak said: "With Singapore's ageing population, there is a need to enhance community support for seniors and persons with dementia so that they can live and age well at home and within the community."

The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped has started its own training for SMRT staff, while the Alzheimer's Disease Association will begin its dementia-related training in the upcoming months.

This is in line with the goal of a more inclusive transport network laid out in the 2040 Land Transport Master Plan, which was unveiled in May 2019.

"As an inclusive public transport service provider, we want all commuters, especially the elderly and those with special needs, to feel safe and comfortable when they travel in our network," said SMRT Roads president Tan Kian Heong.

The agreement was signed at the site of the upcoming Yishun Integrated Transport Hub, which will open next month.

The hub has been recognised by AIC as a place where people can bring dementia patients. Trained SMRT staff will attend to them and contact their next-of-kin.

The event was attended by several Nee Soon GRC MPs, including Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who said "a lot of thought" had gone into making the hub more inclusive.

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