In August, DSDC was invited to Singapore to deliver dementia education for a clients’ homecare and day centre workforce. As one of the Learning and Development Officers within the centre, I was offered the opportunity to deliver the training. I was delighted to take up the offer as I was intrigued to find out more about day care in Singapore; my practice background includes the provision of day care and I was interested to have a comparison.
The educational programme I delivered stretched over four days and included: the Best Practice in Dementia Care Programme; enhanced level of supporting distressed behaviour; and the creation and evaluation of person-centred support for individuals living with dementia.
On my arrival in Singapore I was met by the day centres’ Psychologist. She highlighted that the staff had apprehensions about being away from their units for four days of training, as each day centre supports over 100 clients per day, five days a week. I think it was at this point my jaw hit the floor. Over 100 clients a day - my experience of supporting clients with dementia in day care had seen a maximum of 25! I reiterated that I could see why they would be concerned with the vast volume of people they support.
The emphasis in Singapore is towards intergenerational work and community resources. Funds are available to support the creation of new builds for day care, and it was within a new community day centre that the training was delivered. The centre was surrounded by shops, a library, and communal areas for anyone within the community who wanted to join in activity groups, such as dancing.
Over the four days I met so many lovely staff who really engaged in the training and could see how the staff in the units could benefit greatly from the Best Practice programme. We discussed ways they could support staff study time, and translation for those where English was not their first language. Throughout the training we discussed the comparisons between the day care support locally in Scotland and the support in Singapore.
I was fortunate to visit one of the day centres at the end of the training week, as the staff knew I was struggling to envisage how over 100 people can be supported on a daily basis. They had various rooms for activities, dining areas, lounges, quiet areas, garden areas, sensory rooms and a therapy room for exercise. Although it was built on a larger scale, the noise levels were not excessive and many people were actively engaged in activities.
One other difference is that many families employ help in the home for their loved one, which is part of a government incentive. The employed carer attends the day care with the person they support, and it is their responsibility to support that person throughout the day in all of the activities they undertake.
My time in Singapore has left me with some fantastic lasting memories. From the enthusiastic way in which staff approach supporting people with dementia, to the wealth of incredible food I was presented with each day. I came away so much more enriched having met the group and gained a greater understanding of their culture and practice when supporting individuals in day care.
I will enjoy many lasting memories of my visit and cannot express my thanks enough to everyone I met for making me feel so welcome, including passing my initiation test of eating ‘Durin’, the local delicacy, which I enjoyed to the surprise of many!