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Smart solutions for living well

In innovating healthcare for tomorrow, Changi General Hospital (CGH) taps on technology to provide the best care and treatment for persons with dementia (PWD).

Dysphagia cup

Some 90% of CGH’s senior inpatients were found not to have consumed enough water and were at risk of dehydration, which might lead to complications such as delirium, falls, urinary tract infections and constipation. Assisting these seniors to drink requires time and increases the caregiving burden.

To address this, a multi-disciplinary CGH team consisting of a geriatrician, speech therapists, nursing staff and occupational therapists developed the dysphagia cup, Drink Ezy, to help improve fluid consumption among seniors in the geriatric wards, including the dementia ward.

With the facilitation of independent drinking, 75% of senior patients have had an improvement in fluid consumption since its implementation in 2020.

Sensory gardens

Regardless of the stage of dementia, the five senses of PWDs remain intact despite their impaired memory and decline in mental abilities. With the two sensory gardens in CGH, patients have direct access to sunshine and greenery. The gardens have been incorporated into CGH’s building and landscape to provide a dementia-friendly environment, offering a more conducive “home away from home” for patients to ease in while they receive treatment in an unfamiliar and potentially stressful hospital environment.

PWDs have displayed less behavioural symptoms like agitation when they are regularly engaged in therapeutic garden activities. Going for short walks in the gardens encourages physical exercise to improve mobility and independence.

The sensory gardens stimulate the senses, and facilitate social interactions, as well as provide light therapy through sunshine exposure (which produces vitamin D) and cognitive stimulation.

  • SIGHT: Colours of the different plants.
  • SMELL: Scents from herbs like rosemary, curry leaves, lime, pandan, oregano and flowers like jasmine.
  • TOUCH: Different textures and shapes of the plants.
  • TASTE: Flavours of the different herbs.
  • HEARING: The sound of windchimes and rustling leaves in the gardens.

Utilising innovation and technology to manage dementia

Social robot Pepper takes on a major role in conducting interactive group activities for senior patients at CGH, including those with dementia or delirium, enabling cognitive stimulation and reducing functional decline. Since its implementation in 2021, over 200 patients in CGH have benefitted from engagements with the social robot. At CGH’s geriatric wards, robotic pets also serve to stimulate the minds of senior patients, and help decrease their stress and anxiety.

PWDs joining in activities with the social robot and a nurse from CGH’s care team.

Robotic pets in action.

CGH and the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) co-created Piece by Piece, a mobile game application to stimulate and engage seniors with dementia through reminiscence therapy and technology. The app has dementia-friendly features such as adequate visual and auditory-based cues, and tangrams that were designed based on the themes of Singapore’s culture and themes familiar to the seniors.

The Piece by Piece mobile game application.

Preliminary findings of patients using the
VR technology have shown promising
results in the cognitive domains and
daily memory functioning and mood.

A multi-disciplinary team in CGH is studying the application of Virtual Reality (VR) technology in preventing the worsening of cognition among older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Using specialised devices such as head-mounted displays and hand-held controllers, users can navigate three-dimensional computer-generated worlds in VR, experiencing an interactive and immersive environment, and enabling patients to improve cognition via the strengthening of neural pathways.

Smart solutions for living well