Online community for young caregivers among winning ideas at socio-health challenge

SINGAPORE – Having cared for his father, who has walking difficulties, for 13 months, Mr Benjamin Wong felt that he had garnered experience and knowledge that he could share with other caregivers.

The 34-year-old, who is a user experience designer, signed up for the Design4Impact challenge. Design4Impact is an open innovation platform where groups and individuals work together to find solutions for some of the biggest health and social challenges faced in Singapore.

Working in a team with three others, they proposed using technology to connect young or inexperienced caregivers, allowing them to seek resources and support via platforms like video-conferencing platform Zoom and messaging app Discord.

His teammate, Ms Vyshnavi Desiraju, 25, said this could serve as an outlet for caregivers to share their experiences and feel heard, as well as form friendships.

“In this pandemic, we need human interaction and we need someone to hear our stories, our pain points and our distress,” said the final-year medical student.

Their team, CareStarters, was one of three winners in the Design4Impact challenge, which saw nine shortlisted teams pitching their solutions to a panel of judges last Friday (Dec 3).

The other winners were Keep It Real and Garden2Gather.

Keep It Real’s concept was a five-week programme to promote mental and emotional well-being among male youths, through game quests and workshops on skills such as active listening.

Garden2Gather proposed gardening workshops that provide seniors with growing kits for edible plants, so that they can mingle and bond.

This year’s challenge was launched in October, and focused on strengthening the mental well-being of seniors, caregivers and youth. It drew more than 180 participants.

The three winning teams will each receive implementation funding of $10,000 from insurer Prudential Singapore and another $2,000 from the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

The challenge was organised by the Ministry of Health’s Office for Healthcare Transformation, NCSS, DesignSingapore Council and the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Systems Science.

Thanking all the participants for their hard work and empathy, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour on the pitch day, said in a pre-recorded speech that the Design4Impact programme was not just a platform to generate new ideas and solutions.

“It’s also a gateway for us to bring together and galvanise socially minded Singaporeans like yourselves, to join us in supporting members of our society who are in need,” he said.

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He also announced that Design4Impact will form a community of practice (COP) for more collaboration across the social, health and community sectors in innovating and implementing solutions.

The COP is expected to launch by the first half of next year. Members will benefit from training as well as opportunities to connect with potential funders, mentors, incubators and accelerators.

“(It) will also link you up with interested non-profit organisations and community groups, for volunteer and employment opportunities,” said Mr Lee.

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