Late grandparents inspire Singapore Poly students' projects
Designs that help dementia patients and wheelchair users featured in Singapore Polytechnic exhibition
When Mr Terence Thong's grandmother developed dementia two years ago, he and his family were completely at a loss.
Mr Thong told The New Paper: "It came as a shock as we had never dealt with dementia in our family before. We didn't know the proper procedures or how to care for her."
Eventually, they sought help from a care centre and learnt more about the condition.
His experience of caring for his grandmother, who died last year, spurred the 19-year-old to design Forget Us Not, a unique community care centre as part of his final-year project.
His project was among the 150 designs displayed at the annual Singapore Polytechnic Design School graduation exhibition last week.
Focused on needs of dementia patients and their caregivers, the centre has sensory rooms for patients and interactive walls that when activated, reveal a visual and textile change to help patients navigate.
Mr Thong, who graduated with a diploma in interior design, said: "Through research, I understood that the play on the five senses through texture and colours is important to keep the patient engaged, which can slow down the dementia."
He also designed a space for caregivers to communicate and seek help from one another.
He said: "From my experience, there is a need to have caregivers share their experiences, relate... the problem of dementia. That way, it does not feel like they are fighting the problem alone."
Another featured final-year project was Mr Edwind Tan's wheelchair prototype. The experience and product design graduate spent a day in his late grandfather's wheelchair.
Mr Tan, 21, had observed that his grandfather, who was diabetic and had both limbs amputated, had difficulty transferring himself from his wheelchair to his bed.
The flat hammock seat also caused pressure on his grandfather's tailbone and damaged it. He would often stay in his room.
With input from patients and nurses from Gleneagles Hospital, Mr Tan designed a wheelchair that aims to tackle key issues such as comfort, independence and stability.
"My grandfather would reject our help as he wanted to be independent. When I tried his wheelchairs, I realised they lack versatility and comfort," he said.
His model includes a customised curved seat and a redesigned wheel that elevates the wheelchair to the height of the user's bed frame. Side panels at the armrests can be open to serve as a bridge for easy transfer of the user from wheelchair to bed.
He hopes to keep designing products for disabled people.
Said Mr Tan: "The idea of improving someone's life through a product I designed really warms my heart. I want to continue making products to empower people."