Helping Persons Living with Dementia Find Their Way at MRT Stations

Getting to the correct exit in an MRT station where there is a constant crowd, a flurry of movements and multiple exits can be nerve-racking especially for persons living with dementia. With such sensory overload coupled with difficulties in remembering directions, they may end up taking the wrong exit and subsequently lose their way; resulting in anxieties for their loved ones when they do not get home.

With the “Find Your Way” initiative, we aim to help persons living with dementia navigate the MRT stations to safely get to their intended exits. The first of its kind in MRT stations, it involves the use of nostalgic items as studies have shown that reminiscence is helpful in stimulating parts of the brain that deal with long-term memory and cognition. 

Officially launched this afternoon at the Chinatown Station by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Mr Baey Yam Keng, “Find Your Way” is a collaborative effort between SBS Transit and Dementia Singapore. 

At the Chinatown MRT Station, large stickers of everyday items of yesteryears specifically, lanterns, plastic carrier bags, rotary telephones, cylindrical bamboo baskets and enamelled tiffin carriers are strategically displayed on the walls of the walkways. Complemented by directional floor stickers featuring the respective nostalgic items, they serve as self-help visual cues to enable those living with dementia, and the elderly in general, remember their way in getting to their intended exit. 

SBS Transit Chief Executive Officer, Mr Cheng Siak Kian, said: "Putting heart into making travel inclusive, safe and pleasant for our passengers matters a lot to us. Therefore, we are grateful to Dementia Singapore and the dementia self-advocates for their cooperation and support in helping to implement this initiative purposefully. These advocates are people who live with dementia and we made it a point to seek their inputs at every stage of the design process so that this wayfinding initiative can be useful and effective, in particular, for those who live with dementia.”

Dementia Singapore Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jason Foo, said, “Dementia self-advocates and artists have been nothing but passionate about enhancing the community to be more dementia-friendly, right down to the details used in each mural. Dementia Singapore is thankful to SBS Transit for this partnership - it is truly a unique and collective approach as Singapore works toward being a dementia-inclusive society.”

Ms Emily Ong, 55 years old, who has been diagnosed with young onset dementia said, “Working with SBS Transit, Dementia Singapore and the artists to co-design the initiative was heartening and progressive as the team respected and valued my opinions and those of my fellow dementia self-advocates in the decision-making process.”

“Find Your Way” will progressively be extended to another four MRT stations on the North East and Downtown Lines - Boon Keng, Kovan, Mattar and Geylang Bahru – and three other bus interchanges - Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay and Hougang Central. In February 2022, a similar initiative was rolled out at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange to guide passengers with dementia get to their boarding berths. 

The “Find Your Way” self-help initiative complements the community-based Dementia Go-To Points (GTPs) under the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative, supported by the Agency for Integrated Care. All 50 MRT stations on the North East Line and the Downtown Line, as well as 17 bus interchanges and seven selected bus terminals managed by SBS Transit are designated GTPs. The GTPs are part of the national initiative to make Singapore dementia-friendly.  
GTPs serve as “safe return” points within the community, where members of the public can bring persons with dementia who may appear lost and are unable to identify themselves or their way home.  Close to 750 of our frontline staff are trained to assist in reuniting them with their caregivers.

The GTPs are also touch points within the community that serve as resource centres to provide information and useful resources on dementia and link those who need help with the relevant dementia-related services.