Persons Living with Dementia Enabled to Find Their Way Around Bus Interchanges and MRT Stations

Going out has always been an anxious affair for 74-year-old Mr Jack Tan, a retired technician, who lives with dementia. He has a hard time remembering directions and navigating his way around. With a new initiative known as "Find Your Way", Mr Tan will find getting around much easier and safer at the bus interchanges and MRT stations, not only for him and for those who live with dementia but also for the elderly in general.

Officially launched this afternoon at the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange by the Senior Minister of State for Transport and Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mr Chee Hong Tat, “Find Your Way” is a collaborative effort between SBS Transit and Dementia Singapore.

The first of its kind in our local public transport nodes, the initiative involves segmenting the respective bus interchanges and MRT stations into distinct zones with each represented by an image of a nostalgic item that is colour-coded. At the Toa Payoh Interchange, images of childhood games or activities of yesteryears namely five stones, chapteh, paper balls, marbles and "longkang" (means drain in Malay) fishing are adopted. Studies have shown that reminiscence can stimulate parts of the brain that deal with long-term memory and cognition and this was how the initiative came about.

Complemented by directional floor stickers with colour-coded images that point the way to the respective boarding berths, the initiative will hopefully help those living with dementia to better remember the locations of the boarding berths of the services that they frequent.

“Although I know I’m just looking out for Service 145, the interchange has many services and berths and this can be very overwhelming for me. Now, I just need to follow the purple arrows and look out for the purple five stone sticker. It really makes a difference for me and I don’t feel so anxious at the interchange anymore. These efforts are not only helpful for persons living with dementia like myself, they are good for older folks as well,” said Mr Tan.

SBS Transit Chief Executive Officer, Mr Cheng Siak Kian, said: “Working with community partners such as the Handicaps Welfare Association, SPD, the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore and the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, we are committed to making public transport not only inclusive but also better, safer and more pleasant for our passengers, in particular those who need more care and attention.”

“We hope this “Find Your Way” initiative, in partnership with Dementia Singapore, will enable our passengers to better navigate their way around our transport hubs to get to their destinations. By doing so, it avoids anxious moments and worries for their loved ones when they are lost and go missing,” he added.

Dementia Singapore Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jason Foo, said, “Since June 2021, we have been working closely with SBS Transit and in consultation with persons with dementia. It is a fulfilling partnership as SBS Transit is very open in receiving feedback which really emphasises the collaborative approach that we encourage as the first step in making Singapore a truly dementia-inclusive society.”

“Find My Way” will progressively be extended to another three bus interchanges - Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay and Hougang Central – and five MRT stations on the North East and Downtown Lines - Chinatown, Boon Keng, Kovan, Mattar and Geylang Bahru – which are frequented by elderly passengers.

It will complement SBS Transit’s efforts in making travel inclusive for persons living with dementia. By end-March 2022, all its 17 bus interchanges, seven bus terminals and 50 MRT stations will be designated as “Go-to Points” - which are essentially "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. Our trained staff will assist in reuniting them with their caregivers.

The “Go-to Points” 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. More than 750 employees have completed their training as part of the certification to serve as “Go-to Points” under the Agency for Integrated Care.

As an inclusive public transport service provider, all our frontline staff attend experiential learning conducted by SG Enable to appreciate the mobility challenges of passengers with disabilities so that we can serve them better and with heart.