Creating dementia-inclusive workplaces
A localised toolkit to help businesses to change perceptions and bring understanding about dementia.
In a big step towards building a dementia-inclusive society, Dementia Singapore – formerly known as Alzheimer’s Disease Association – has launched Singapore’s first toolkit for companies, offering a three-stage dementia-inclusive framework that can be easily integrated into their business practices.
Dementia Singapore saw a need to produce a localised guide for companies to help them effectively drive change in perception and attitudes towards dementia and empower the dementia community in the workplace.
“The Business Toolkit for a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore” acquaints companies with a three-stage framework of awareness, friendliness and inclusiveness. By following the framework, each company is first able to understand the gravity of dementia as an issue that needs to be addressed in the workplace; the next steps it can take to make dementia-friendly changes to its business environment; and eventually become dementia-inclusive where it can effectively render support to staff with dementia or who are carers to loved ones with dementia.
Said the CEO of Dementia Singapore, Jason Foo: “Dementia not only impacts the daily lives of persons living with it but also carers who may have to sacrifice their careers, in whole or in part, to care for their loved ones. And with the increasing prevalence of dementia in Singapore, businesses may start to see a corresponding rise in the number of their customers or employees who are caregivers or who live with dementia.
“We hope that as companies flip through the pages of the toolkit, they understand that sweeping changes need not be made overnight. The entry point and pace of the journey are dependent on their values, priorities and resources. Getting acquainted with the tips and resources in this toolkit is an important first step in this journey,” Foo added.
The toolkit includes personal experiences from persons living with dementia and their carers to help companies better understand their challenges. It also contains case studies of other organisations that have successfully transitioned to become dementia-friendly and inclusive. To put together the toolkit, Dementia Singapore worked closely with local businesses to identify the gaps in their understanding of the condition and to determine how it can better present the relevant information in a clear and accessible manner.
Authored by Mary-Ann Khoo, consultant in the CEO office at Dementia Singapore, and Dr Angeline Lim, a lecturer at one of Singapore’s universities, the toolkit was designed to be applied in the workplace at any scale, from an individual- or department-level to a whole-of-company integration.
“Businesses which strive to be inclusive often do not consider dementia as a diversity dimension since dementia is commonly perceived to be a condition that impacts only the elderly and that persons with dementia cannot work. With the increasing prevalence of dementia in Singapore, including young onset dementia, a deeper understanding of the different types and stages of dementia and how to interact with someone with dementia becomes crucial as it could happen to your employees, customers, suppliers, and you want to be ready to support them,” said Dr Lim.
Added Khoo: “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to raise the awareness of the abilities of persons with dementia. Besides this being a DIY toolkit to encourage businesses to embark on this dementia-inclusive journey, this toolkit is also a means for us to spark conversations and aid us in our work to build a more dementia-inclusive Singapore.”
Companies achieve the goal of being dementia-inclusive upon completion of the third and final stage of the toolkit’s framework. This translates to when the company successfully implements mechanisms and policies to hire, retain and support employees with dementia, and who are caregivers to persons living with dementia.
Shared Wong Lai Quen, a caregiver to her husband with dementia and who works full-time as a client delivery director: “I read the toolkit and it resonates deeply with me as a carer. As I journeyed these past eight years with my husband who has had young onset dementia since 2013 at age 57, I have always hoped that businesses and industries such as healthcare institutions, banking, travel, transport, retail,and F&B outlets would provide more care and support to caregivers and their loved ones with dementia.
“As carers, we need compassionate communities that understand our needs and challenges. I encourage company leaders to use this toolkit to help build an inclusive dementia-friendly environment at their workplaces.”
The toolkit is supported by Dementia Singapore’s corporate partner, Musim Mas Holdings. “Our local businesses have the responsibility to fight stigmatic attitudes towards dementia and the power to lead by example by first making transformational changes within their own organisations,” said Alvin Lim, CFO and executive director of Musim Mas.
For more information or to download the Business Toolkit for a Dementia-Inclusive Singapore, visit https://dementia.org.sg/business-toolkit/. Companies can also contact Dementia Singapore if they are keen to implement dementia-friendly or inclusive actions on the ground.