Dysphagia-friendly food, tunes from the 60s, and an immersive display room where you can furnish the interior of a kampong house. These were just some of the elements of Reunion, the first purpose-built dedicated social space for seniors in a local museum.
Created by the National Museum of Singapore, Reunion was designed to champion museums for social prescription and opened its doors to the public on 13 April.
Social prescribing is a healthcare approach that involves connecting people with non-medical resources and services to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
“Our aspiration is to see how we can provide museum-based, non-medical intervention, to support the healthcare system and ageing population and marry healthcare and culture,” says Assistant Director of Programmes at National Museum of Singapore, Foo Min Lee.
“It was conceptualised as part of a collaboration between Lien Foundation and National Museum of Singapore to support the health and well-being of seniors, including those living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia”, adds Ms Foo.
The space features music booths created for seniors to enjoy familiar tunes; an interactive and immersive experience down memory lane where seniors to curate their own virtual exhibitions; a quiet room designed to enable seniors to regulate in a relaxing environment; an eatery helmed by Café Brera serving food suitable for people with swallowing difficulties, and an activity area for different types of activities.
One of the activities that will be conducted by the museum in Reunion are Refresh and Reconnect!, a new 8-week signature programme that offers a non-medical heritage-based intervention programme for seniors living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Volunteers engage elderly visitors in dialogue through a variety of familiar objects such as a hurricane lamp and vinyl records, to help trigger their memories.
Reunion was designed by the National Museum’s partner and architectural consultant, RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, in consultation with seniors and partners from the health and social care sectors like DementiaSG and Apex Harmony Lodge.
“One of the most interesting things for us was that colours play a huge part, especially for seniors with dementia … The application of colour was something we were very careful about. For example the only item in the music booths that is red are its seats, to draw the attention of visitors. ,” says Associate Director of RSP Architects, Mark Wong.
“We hope to see how we can then study the impact of reunion and programme on visitors, and how we can tell our healthcare and social care partners to encourage more museum-going to promote active and successful ageing in Singapore,” says Miss Foo.