Singapore: Stations to help people with dementia find way home

Retired chemical plant superintendent Anjang Rosli, who suffers from young-onset dementia, sometimes leaves home without telling his wife and ends up getting lost.

But now, when the 58-year-old is unable to find his way home, color-coded arrows and murals at Toa Payoh bus interchange will help to guide him.

This is part of a new initiative called Find Your Way, which is aimed at helping elderly people and those with dementia navigate public transport with color-coded arrows and illustrations of childhood games that will jog their memories.

Transport operator SBS Transit and Dementia Singapore, which are behind the initiative, consulted people with dementia to create the wayfinders.

The media were given a tour of Toa Payoh Bus Interchange at the launch of the project on Feb. 7.

The interchange is divided into five distinct zones, each represented by a color-coded illustration of a nostalgic childhood game.

Images of five stones, capteh, paper balls, marbles and “longkang,” or drain fishing, on the walls, along with color-coded floor stickers, show people where to board the various buses.

The nostalgic illustrations help stimulate parts of the brain that deal with long-term memory and cognition, SBS Transit said.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat, who is an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, launched the initiative.

He said in a Facebook post on Monday: “Under the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, we are working towards making our public transport system more inclusive to meet the diverse needs of our commuters.

“I do hope the color-coded murals will make the bus interchange safer, more inclusive and more accessible for commuters with dementia, and also visually interesting for other commuters.”

The wayfinders will progressively be extended to another three bus interchanges that are most frequented by elderly passengers — Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay and Hougang Central.

Five MRT stations on the North East and Downtown lines — Chinatown, Boon Keng, Kovan, Mattar and Geylang Bahru will join them.

Madam Sarima Mohd Tajudin, 57, who is Mr. Anjang’s wife and caregiver, said the initiative puts her more at ease with her husband’s tendency to go out and take buses spontaneously without informing her.

“Having the stickers will help not just people with dementia but also everyone having a ‘blur’ moment,” the housewife added.

On top of the wayfinders, by end-March, all 17 bus interchanges, seven bus terminals and 50 MRT stations under SBS Transit will be listed as dementia go-to points, where members of the public can take people with dementia who appear lost.

More than 750 SBS Transit employees have been trained by the Agency for Integrated Care to assist these people, as well as provide information on dementia and link people with dementia-related services.

SBS Transit’s front-line staff are also trained by SG Enable on the mobility challenges of passengers with disabilities, the transport operator said.

Mr. Chee said: “The journey toward inclusive public transport also requires all commuters to be more gracious and caring toward one another. Do look out for commuters in need and lend them a helping hand.”