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‘Social media’ experience at void decks for seniors among health, community ideas to be piloted with S$36,000 funding

SINGAPORE — After seeing how safety measures during the Covid-19 pandemic are isolating seniors and affecting their ability to manage their chronic diseases, a team of six students decided they wanted to do something about it.

‘Social media’ experience at void decks for seniors among health, community ideas to be piloted with S$36,000 funding

Clockwise from top left are Team Lit's members Koh Ying Ying, Jaymee Justiniano, Ho Ding Heng, Sheikh Izzat, Caitlin O'Hara and Alden Tan.

  • Three teams were named winners in the Design4Impact challenge
  • Each will receive S$12,000 to pilot their ideas in the Jurong Lake District
  • Two target issues faced by seniors amid Covid-19 safety measures
  • Another aims to promote healthy living and eating habits

 

SINGAPORE — After seeing how safety measures during the Covid-19 pandemic are isolating the seniors and affecting their ability to manage their chronic diseases, a team of six students decided they wanted to do something about it.

So the group, known as Team Lit, came up with Blockbox, which was inspired by something that they heavily rely on in these times of distancing: Social media. 

The idea is to recreate an inclusive social media experience — minus the technology — by converting a void deck into a community space with communal health progress boards to track senior residents’ health habits.

The students from National University of Singapore and Yale University also came up with the idea of KitBox, a senior-friendly monthly health subscription box, which would be delivered to the seniors’ homes, containing items that aim to promote a healthy diet and regular exercise, as well as art therapy tools. 

On Friday (July 24), Team Lit was named one of the top three winning groups in Design4Impact, a competition that sought sustainable and community-owned solutions for health and social needs amplified by Covid-19.

Each team will receive S$12,000 to pilot their ideas in the Jurong Lake District. If the ideas prove successful, they will be scaled up to more regions islandwide.

Design4Impact is jointly led by the Ministry of Health’s Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), supported by DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS).

In a Facebook post on Friday, Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, congratulated the three teams on their winning solutions to combat the pandemic’s challenges, commenting on how safe-distancing measures had “further amplified stressors to the physical, social and mental well-being of many, leading to increased isolation and reduction in social interaction”. 

He also praised the initiative for drawing more than 180 individuals, who came together “from a range of diverse backgrounds… undeterred by challenges brought about by the safe distancing measures”. 

“This truly embodies the Singapore Together spirit of harnessing our talents and diversity to overcome challenges so that we can emerge stronger from Covid-19,” he said. 

Team Lit member Jaymee Justiniano, a 23-year-old student from NUS, said: “Specifically for the digitally estranged seniors, we wanted to bring the online social media experience that us youths heavily rely on to get by, for them to better manage their health and harness the self-sustaining power of community.”

The other two winning teams are a group from St Luke’s Eldercare and a multidisciplinary group named Team Z1-5.

St Luke’s Eldercare created a post-discharge buddy system and mobile application that matches volunteers to seniors who live alone, to enhance their transitional care experiences. 

Team Z1-5 came up with the idea of a gamified “Block vs Block Challenge” between public housing blocks to nudge healthy living habits and promote community bonds.

ENSURING THAT SENIORS WILL NOT BE ALONE 

St Luke’s Eldercare’s proposed Buddy Aide app aims to match keen volunteers with seniors who live alone, to smoothen their process of transitioning back home after they are discharged from hospital. 

The volunteer buddy would undertake the role of an informal caregiver for 28 days.

The idea is that while the senior is still warded, hospital staff members will use the app to match them to a buddy who lives in their vicinity. The buddy will then go on to visit the senior and receive caregiving training before the senior is discharged, and will take the patient home on the day of discharge. 

The accompanying app will also contain uploaded medical documents such as the patient’s hospitalisation summary and medication instructions, to aid the buddy in the caregiving process. 

The team believes that the buddy will go a long way not only in helping the senior physically— such as helping them travel home safely from the hospital  — but also socially, by being a meaningful companion during a difficult and otherwise isolating period. 

Speaking to TODAY, team member Francis Ho said that the team was at a stage of working through what the journeys of buddies and patients might look like, and were making sure that the two journeys were able to “seamlessly interface with each other”. 

Dr Ho, 42, who is also the head of radiation oncology at the National University Hospital, added that they were engaging with volunteers and stakeholders in hospitals, and that initial stages have been “quite positive”. 

The team then plans to pilot the initiative with five to 10 patients, fine-tune the programme and discuss its feasibility with participants before scaling it up, he said. 

NUDGING PEOPLE TO EXERCISE

The third winning solution from Team Z1-5 is an inter-block competition, the “Block vs Block Challenge” to motivate residents living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats to develop healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating healthily and exercising regularly. 

The team, which comprises six members from various fields that include health, architecture, engineering, social service and data science, has designed the challenges to require combined efforts from many residents within each block, in a bid to strengthen family bonds and neighbourliness. 

Attractive rewards will be given to individuals, units and blocks who complete the challenges. 

Through such community-scale gamification, the team hopes to generate healthy competition, motivate healthy behaviours, and ultimately strengthen the “kampung spirit”. 

Team member Kelly Kuo, 26, who works as a data scientist at ride-hailing firm Grab, said that the team had interviewed individuals about how the pandemic had changed their lifestyles. 

“It led us to realise that the community has a bigger interest in healthy living habits during the Covid-19 period because of how much time people are spending at home,” she said.

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