Professor Kalyani K. Mehta is Head of the Graduate Gerontology Programme at Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). She has researched and taught on ageing-related policies, programmes, and services as a consultant and lecturer not only in Singapore but also other countries in Asia. Her publications are cited widely particularly on cultural, gender and family. Her research interests are cross cultural gerontology, older workers, spirituality and grandparenting.
The City for All Ages: Singapore’s design for age-friendly environment
This paper analyses Singapore’s approach that ageing is not just the concern of a specific segment of society but a whole-of-society concern. This is reflected in the composition of the Committee on Ageing Issues (CAI) which is a tripartite of people-public-private representatives from health, social, manpower and media sectors. The work of the CAI culminated in the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, announced in August 2015. The Plan reflects Singapore’s tenets of aged care; which is ageing-in-place and community-based care, founded on the social philosophy of the family and the community as the first and second line of support respectively. The Plan outlines three strategic thrusts to make Singapore “A Nation for All Ages”. These thrusts involves the individual, community, and the city. The City for All Ages project is customised for the Singapore context and it operates in six precincts as of 2017.
The National Dementia Strategy (2009) is symbolised in the dementia ready approach named ‘Forget Us Not’ campaign, an initiative led by Lien Foundation and launched in January 2016. This campaign seeks to create dementia-friendly communities (DFC), in the form of Dementia Friends, across Singapore including individuals, businesses, schools, places of worship and services. People living in communities are trained to understand dementia and are equipped with skills and knowledge to support Persons with Dementia (PwD) to age-in-place.
The prospect of these policies, legislation, programmes and interventions to enable and empower PwD to live confidently in the community, is contingent on an approach which includes the voices of the PwD and their care partner(s). For effective and positive outcomes, PwD need to be advocates in their own right for their cause. In critiquing Singapore’s efforts to create age friendly dementia-ready environment, it is therefore necessary to examine if Singapore’s policies, legislation, programmes and interventions have directly involved the PwD and seniors in their design and implementation. Our analysis will show that the speed of changes that are occurring and lack of evaluation measures to monitor the effectiveness of the programs and services are some shortcomings. Some policy recommendations conclude the paper.