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More Businesses in Singapore are Providing Dementia-Awareness Training to its Front-Line Staff

July 27, 2016

DBS/POSB branch staff attending to an elderly customer. (Photo: DBS)

Focusing on creating awareness about Dementia and dealing with customers suffering from the same, more businesses in Singapore on the likes of McDonald’s, SMRT, DBS and Sheng Siong Supermarket are introducing awareness training programs for its front-line staff.

According to findings in the World Alzheimer Report 2015, “Between 2015 and 2050, the number of people living with dementia in what are now high income countries will increase by 116%. This compares to a 227% increase in upper middle income countries, 223% in lower middle income countries, and 264% in low income countries.”

The significant factors associated with dementia were older age. The likelihood of dementia for those aged 75–84 years was 4.3 times and for those 85 years and over, it was 18.4 times higher compared to that of elderly aged 60–74 years.

DBS Bank Dementia Awareness Initiative

To mark DBS’ 48th anniversary, some 600 staff from across the bank are volunteering their services from 19 to 21 July by visiting homes of the elderly as well as senior activity centres to help raise awareness of dementia risks and prevention, conduct workshops on active ageing as well as perform needs assessment surveys.

Staff will also be presenting gifts from DBS to the elderly. The initiative is part of the bank’s staff volunteer movement “People of Purpose”, which promotes values of leadership and empathy among staff by leveraging employees’ time and expertise to make meaningful contributions to communities.

Said Karen Ngui, Head of Group Strategic Marketing & Communications at DBS Bank said, “As a purpose-driven organisation, we believe that it is imperative for us to create impact beyond banking. This initiative goes beyond a single volunteer engagement and goes to buttress other forms of support we have been providing the elderly. This includes training our branch staff in dementia awareness; hiring seniors to assist other seniors in our branches; providing free financial literacy workshops; and mobilising our digital banking channels to provide fundraising and revenue streams for charities that support the elderly.”

The needs assessment survey activity is an initiative conducted in partnership with Lions Befrienders, a VWO that aims to aid in the psycho-emotional, social, and physical well-being of the elderly, and Forget Us Not, an initiative by Lien Foundation and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) to raise dementia awareness.

The survey is particularly crucial as the data will help Lions Befrienders to identify elderly who might be at risk of dementia while also assessing their current standards of living. Collecting this data is time-consuming work, and requires a significant amount of manpower. To assist with this work, DBS/POSB staff volunteers have also undergone training beforehand on how to engage with the elderly.

At workshops on active ageing, staff volunteers will help educate seniors at senior activity centres on dementia symptoms as well as risk factors and how to lower these risks. Staff volunteers will also join the seniors in craft-making workshops, with items produced going towards fundraising for Lions Befrienders.

Dr. Philip Yap, Director of the Geriatric Centre at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital said, “Active ageing involves regular engagement of our minds and bodies, not forgetting having rich social networks too. It reduces the risk of dementia and depression, keeps chronic ailments in check and increases a person’s productive years. Active ageing benefits us, our families and the society, and should be a way of life for all.”

According to Forget Us Not, there are currently 45,000 persons with dementia in Singapore and it is projected that this figure will more than double to 103,000 by 2030. In Singapore, one in every 10 persons aged 60 years and above has dementia, while one in every two persons aged 85 years and above has dementia.

With Singapore being one of the fastest-ageing countries in the world, DBS/POSB has been investing in communities and services to prepare itself for the future challenges of an ageing population.

“All of us need meaningful relationships and a sense of belonging to enhance our wellbeing. Similarly, our elderly with dementia need the support and understanding of the community to help them stay connected, have better quality of life and to age-in-place with dignity,” said Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foundation.

Earlier this year, most of the bank’s branch and location managers attended training workshops conducted by Forget Us Not to better understand customers who have dementia.

The training gives staff greater empathy on what it is like to have dementia, and advises staff on how to engage with customers with dementia. With the training, managers are in turn equipped to train the other staff in DBS/POSB’s branches on engaging with customers who may have dementia.

Lien Foundation reported, “The training on dementia has paid off for staff of McDonald’s Singapore. Fadzli Hussen, Director, Government Relations says, “We are now more knowledgeable about persons with dementia and their issues and concerns. This means we are in better position to respond with more understanding, care, and respect. We now also know which parties to contact if we need additional help.”

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