The SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory & Cognitive Disorder Centre brings together specialties across SingHealth institutions to improve dementia care, research and education.

When dementia sets in, cracks can happen from many different angles depending on how people live, present themselves in society and fulfil their social responsibilities. The progressive loss of physical and mental function results in a complex multi-faceted condition that causes practical difficulties and heartache for individuals and families.

The SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory & Cognitive Disorder Centre (Memory and Cognitive Disorder SDDC), has been set up to address these challenges. It brings together SingHealth institutions and specialties to create greater collaboration and to help patients and caregivers at all stages of their dementia journey.

"Putting persons with dementia at the heart of all our discussions will allow us to identify gaps in our current models of care, improve our processes, build on our strengths and make a real difference to thousands of persons and families who are affected by this condition," said Dr Simon Ting, Head, Memory and Cognitive Disorder SDDC, and Head and Senior Consultant, Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute @ Changi General Hospital.

The Memory and Cognitive Disorder SDDC was launched officially at the opening of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory and Cognitive Disorder Centre Scientific Meeting 2020 on 17 September 2020. During her opening address, Professor Ivy Ng, Group Chief Executive Officer, SingHealth, described the launch of this SDDC as timely.

"As a nation, we are ageing and the number of people with dementia is growing. It's estimated that within 10 years, 100,000 people in Singapore will be living with dementia. So we need to consolidate our expertise across the entire healthcare system and focus the Academic Medical Centre on how we can care best for patients with dementia, put our efforts into research and education to improve care," said Prof Ng.

The SDDC brings together doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals from Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital, National Neuroscience Institute, SingHealth Community Hospitals and SingHealth Polyclinics. Seven specialties from these institutions form the SDDC, each with its own strengths in specific areas of dementia care: geriatric medicine, internal medicine, neurology, primary care, step-down care, community care and psychiatry.

While healthcare professionals can advise, prescribe and connect patients with the services they need, it is caregivers and family members who need to cope with the realities of the condition 24 hours a day.

This can be overwhelming for persons living with dementia and their caregivers, especially when there is a lack of awareness and understanding of the condition. Associate Professor Lim Si Ching, Senior Consultant, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Changi General Hospital and Programme Director of the Scientific Meeting explained, "Given that most persons living with dementia become increasingly dependent on their caregivers, eventually needing constant care and assistance with the most basic activities of daily living, there can be physical, psychological, social and economic impact on caregivers and society."

The programme for the two-day scientific meeting was designed to meet the needs of different groups. Almost 1,200 healthcare professionals logged on for Day 1 which focused on the latest clinical updates in dementia and included presentations on cardiovascular risk factors of dementia and biomarkers for diagnosis and caring for older persons with dementia in hospital. More than 1,000 caregivers, healthcare professionals and members of the public attended Day 2, which provided practical information on looking after persons with dementia. Topics included how to optimise nutrition, suitable activities to engage persons at different stages of dementia and support for caregivers.