How do public transport staff identify people with dementia? Behind the scenes with SMRT inclusivity training
SINGAPORE: When new frontline staff join transport operator SMRT, many may not expect to be trained to spot someone who seems confused, lost or anxious.
But it is mandatory for such employees, including bus captains and MRT station staff, to undergo training to identify such passengers and learn how to respond appropriately.
For example, they learn that they might approach a passenger who seems confused and say, “Mister afternoon, can I help you with anything?” You seem lost. And a passenger who seems lost and anxious might be told, “I understand your situation. Allow me to direct you to your destination.
After all, these passengers might have dementia – and this “inclusion training” is part of SMRT’s Demonstrate a Service Vision training that includes dementia awareness within six months of entering the business.
CNA recently attended one of these sessions customized by NTUC LearningHub to meet SMRT needs.
Developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Jurong Community Hospital, Lien Foundation and the Singapore Association of the Visually Impaired, the course aims to make training relevant and authentic to enhance staff’s understanding of transport needs of priority passengers.
The training also covers other vulnerable groups, such as wheelchair users and the visually impaired. A hands-on session takes place at Jurong Community Hospital’s mobility park equipped with steps, inclines and a “simulated” MRT trolley, bus and taxi, where hospital therapists guide SMRT staff on how to assist priority passengers.
With around 2 million people using the MRT every day, such training is important for SMRT frontliners, noted NTUC LearningHub associate trainer Ms. Norendrawati Suseno.
“Do you know how many people they meet at the MRT per day? They are therefore more likely than any other industry as the front line to encounter such passengers. If you can think of the number of people taking MRTs every day, they’re bound to come across one they’ve heard of,” she said.
Ms Norendrawati, who has also trained employees in the hospitality, attractions, entertainment and retail sectors, stressed that the application of the training would be “very different” for transport frontliners.
“It will be very useful because they will be able to really interact with these passengers. We call them priority passengers,” she added.