NUS Computing team wins Merit Award at the 2018 Community Care Excellence Awards

29 January 2019
Former NUS HCI Lab researcher Dr Foong Pin Sym (left) at the Quality & Productivity Festival 2018.

29 January 2019 – Associate Professor Zhao Shengdong and his former PhD student Foong Pin Sym won the Merit award at the Agency for Integrated Care’s Community Care Excellence Award. The award was given out at the Quality & Productivity Festival 2018, which was held on 19 September 2018 in Singapore.

A/P Zhao and Dr Foong won the Merit award, under the Team category, under the Client Experience Improvement category for their tablet-based activity programme for volunteer groups. The team is one of three winners of the Client Experience Improvement category and one of 41 Merit Award recipients. Dr Foong, now a postdoctoral fellow with the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, lead the project when she was pursuing her PhD studies with the NUS Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab in NUS Computing.

The award winning application, called the Volunteer Interactions via Tablet-based Activity (VITA), helps volunteers at nursing homes to run dementia-friendly activities for elderly patients. VITA was a collaborative project between Villa Francis Home for the Aged and the NUS HCI Lab.

“Volunteers are an important resource for long-term nursing home,” said Dr Foong. “However, volunteers with insufficient training often face challenges in responding to dementia-linked behaviours, which can lead to difficulties during interactions.” To tackle this problem, Dr Foong and her team designed VITA to comprise of a set of a client profile module, an activity kit module, and a personalised activity guide. The activity kit contains a set of pre-packaged activities, with each activity accompanied with specific instructions for volunteers to facilitate client engagement.

If a client named Karen enjoys crafts, an employee from the nursing home can use the application to create a tailored profile for Karen that includes craft activities. When a new volunteer is assigned to Karen, the volunteer can read Karen’s biography from the application and follow a set of instructions on how to interact with her through the activities.

“We had a strong focus to create a sustainable and viable solution for care homes,” said Dr Foong. “This helped us ground our work into the everyday practices of care homes because it is meant to save time and effort for the staff, while creating value for the residents.”

“This work is a product of four years of focused study at the NUS-HCI Lab. I am delighted and have nothing but thankfulness for the team at Villa Francis who worked with me and believed in the dream of making the volunteer experience more delightful,” Dr Foong added.

About the Community Care Excellence Award:
The Community Care Excellence Award recognises the contributions of Community Care individuals and teams who have demonstrated exemplary service and commitment in delivering quality care to their clients. The Award was introduced by the Agency for Integrated Care in 2014, and they are the only awards dedicated solely to the community care sector.

The Community Care Excellence Awards – Team Awards acknowledge outstanding quality improvement projects and initiatives implemented by teams in community care organisations. Awards from the Client Experience Improvement category recognises outstanding projects that have improved client experience and satisfaction.

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