SMRT staff get training to help commuters with special needs

People with visual impairment being guided by SMRT staff yesterday in a tour of the Yishun Integrated Transport Hub, which will open next month. The hub is also a place where the public can take commuters with dementia; trained staff will then attend
People with visual impairment being guided by SMRT staff yesterday in a tour of the Yishun Integrated Transport Hub, which will open next month. The hub is also a place where the public can take commuters with dementia; trained staff will then attend to them and contact their next of kin.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Transport operator SMRT wants its staff to be better equipped to help people with disabilities and dementia, through an agreement it signed yesterday 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 - to teach others how to approach and help commuters with disabilities and dementia.

These employees have since trained an initial batch 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 dementia-related training in the coming months.

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

 
 
 
 

"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 officially open next month.

The hub has also been recognised by AIC as a place where members of the public can take commuters with dementia. Trained SMRT staff will then 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 that a lot of thought had gone into making the hub more inclusive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2019, with the headline 'SMRT staff get training to help commuters with special needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe