Public housing in Singapore is managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The majority of residential housing developments are publicly governed and developed. As of 2013, 80% of the population lives in such accommodation. These flats are located in housing estates, which are self-contained satellite towns with schools, supermarkets, clinics, food courts, and sports and recreational facilities. Each town reserves a community-run space named Community Centre (CC) dedicated to bringing people together to interact, make friends, help one another and to participate in social, cultural, educational, recreational, sporting and charitable activities, and in doing so strengthen community spirit and resilience. All CCs have spaces and volunteers dedicated to fulfil the needs of senior citizens by providing them a safe place to engage in social activities and centralizing some services targeted to them.
City services involved
The pilot site will be focused on one Community Centre, involving the volunteers caring for senior citizens in the area as well as about 20 of these citizens. We are focusing on integrating our pilot site into CCs since they are public services present in the whole city of Singapore, thus ensuring that our solution could be scaled to the whole city later on through the 107 CCs existing today. CCs usually have a wooden board where cards describing the profile of the members are displayed when a member arrives and removed when he leaves. These cards are filled, maintained and displayed/removed by the volunteers of the centre. We are planning to design, together with the volunteers, a digital version of this board in order to gather data about the participation of the members. The digital board, using mobile app on tablet, will be complementary to the wooden one.
Target elderly population
The target will be Senior citizens already going to their nearby community centre. Most of them would be over 70 years old, often having mild cognitive and/or physiological impairments. Some may need help from the volunteers to be accompanied from home to the centre and back. We will target people using smartphones, or agreeable to be provided with one and able to learn.
Four main needs have been expressed by elder people with mild dementia and their carers:
- Socialising and communication in the community
- Participating in activities and (enough) meaningful activities during day time
- Feeling of safety, at home and outside the home
- Information and need of assistive services to perform basic activities of daily living
The interventions in this pilot site focus on helping elders remain socially active, while preserving their feeling of safety when out of home. The main interventions, based on the observation of a change in behaviour, will be to:
1. Detect a drop in the social involvement of the user (staying home, spending less time in the community centre, missing events) and invite him through his phone first to go to the centre. In case the invitation is unsuccessful, we can notify the volunteers of the community centre so that they can go visit him to make sure he is all right and invite him personally.
2. Detect if a user is staying out of home later than usual, or wandering in previously unvisited places (GPS) and suggesting him to go home through his smartphone. In this intervention, GPS location can also be used to guide him home.
On top of the two main interventions described above, additional services derived from the system already created can be provided:
1. Invite users for special events through their phone.
2. Invite users when many of the user’s friends are present in the community centre.
3. Friends or community centre volunteers may send invitations to meet manually.
4. Users may use the “bring me home” service of their smartphone as they wish.
The rationale for these interventions is to tackle two of the main issues met by senior citizens: keeping a social activity, and ensuring the safety out of home, e.g. when they loose their way. Additional services (3 to 6) are also to ensure participating to the pilot site is useful and rewarding for the elders, in order to keep
them involved and limit the risk of them not using the system.
20 people over 70 years old
Quantitative estimation of social link
Induce a drop in the rate at which seniors stop going to the community centre
Unobtrusive personal data available
Fusion of data coming from the home or phone of the person, with data collected from the public services (CCs):
Presence into community centre (digital board)
Friendship relation entered in the digital board
Information about activities organised in the centre entered in the digital board
Smartphone location (GPS and/or Wi-Fi)
Home activities via motion sensors and door sensors in homes of agreeable users
Activity-related sensor data from wristbands are optional