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Launch of First Ever Conversation Starter Kit for Seniors

Heritage gets inclusive as the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) launched the first Conversation Starter Kit which brings together the heritage sector and the social care sector in a meaningful collaboration!

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The Conversation Starter Kit is designed for seniors, and is co-developed with the NCSS and four social services organisations, including TOUCH Community Services, Care Corner Seniors Services, SAGE Counselling Centre and Yong-en Care Centre. It is a new programme under the NCSS’ Empowering Seniors Project which brings together a team of 15 social service organisations to champion purposeful engagements in the eldercare sector. The kit features a selection of carefully curated images featuring places and landmarks from the National Collection as well as structured questions to initiate and engage seniors in conversation – both as a means to encourage seniors to share their personal memories and stories as well to facilitate meaningful dialogues between seniors and their care givers.

Mr Alvin Tan, Assistant Chief Executive (Policy and Community) for NHB said, “We regconise the key role played by reminiscence during visits to our museums and heritage institutions and in enabling seniors to share their stories and memories with their families, friends and caregivers. We therefore seek to marry the synergies between the two and co-create with NCSS a product that can facilitate the sharing of stories and memories related to heritage places and themes, and, in the process, keep our seniors socially and emotionally engaged through meaningful conversations.”

Ms Julia Lee, Conversation Starter Kit Project Leader, and Senior Director, Social Work & Programme Development, TOUCH Community Services, “When our project team conceptualised the Coversation Starter Kit with NHB, our goal was to enhance both our volunteers’ and seniors’ interaction. We see the potential of this kit as a conversation starter – to help volunteers break the ice, and be empowered to engage seniors more confidently. They will be amazed to discover about the interesting lives our seniors used to lead, and how different life in Singapore was then.”

The Conversation Starter Kit is expected to benefit social service organisations that reach out to seniors in the community, by serving as a facilitation tool to help conduct more engaging and enriching conversations with seniors. The kit also enables the young to overcome any reservations they might have about interacting with our seniors, by providing them with a starting point for meaningful conversations. The kit will be rolled out in phases to various Senior Activity Centres and eldercare agencies in 2018. It will also be available from the Visitor Services counters at the three heritage institutions (i.e. Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Malay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre)  in January 2018 and visitors may borrow the kit for the duration of their visits.

Joining the National Conversation on Heritage

The Conversation Starter Kit is also the result of feedback from NHB’s engagement sessions involving key stakeholders under Our SG Heritage Plan’s thrust on community engagement and empowerment. It is but one of the many programmes that NHB will be launching under the plan to make heritage more accessible to the public and to transform our museums and heritage institutions into more inclusive spaces. It is also one of the key initiatives under the plan’s focus to develop heritage programmes with community partners for under-served communities.

Other upcoming platforms where Singaporeans from all walks of life may contribute to the national conversation on heritage will include a detailed Our SG Heritage Plan website to be launched in December 2017. Through the website, visitors will be able to find out more about what Singaporeans can look forward to under the plan, participate in a series of online polls, and share their views and feedback. A travelling exhibition will also kick off in January 2018 at key locations around Singapore to promote greater public awareness and encourage feedback on Our SG Heritage Plan and its key recommendations.


About the National Heritage Board
The National Heritage Board (NHB) was formed on 1 August 1993. As the custodian of Singapore’s heritage, NHB is responsible for telling the Singapore story, sharing the Singaporean experience and imparting our Singapore spirit. NHB’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the shared heritage of our diverse communities, for the purpose of education, nation-building and cultural understanding. It manages the national museums and heritage institutions, and sets policies relating to heritage sites, monuments and the National Collection. Through the National Collection, NHB curates heritage programmes and presents exhibitions to connect the past, present and future generations of Singaporeans. NHB is a statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. Please visit www.nhb.gov.sg for more information.

About Our SG Heritage Plan

Our SG Heritage Plan was first announce by the Minsitry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), at the Commitee of Supply Budget Debate 2017. This is a comprehensive and holistic national blueprint for the heritage sector in Singapore, which is drawn up in consultation with heritage stakeholders, Singaporeans and other Government agencies.

The Plan will be a long term effort, with a timeframe of 2030 and beyond. Its first edition in 2018 will set out the strategies and action plans for the next five years (2018 to 2022), to bring us closer to our long term goals for 2030. NHB has conducted a series of engagement sessions to gather ideas on the future of heritage in Singapore, and seek stakeholders’ feedback on key heritage areas. These engagement sessions involved more than 700 museum goers, volunteers, educations, youth and students. The sessions covered a wide range of topics such as archaeology, tangible heritage, intangible cultural heritage, museum excellence, the National Collection, heritage education, and community engagement.

NHB will be seeking public feedback on the various areas covered in Our SG Heritage Plan through their website which will be launched in December 2017, as well as the Our SG Heritage Plan Travelling Exhibition, which will travel the island in January 2018. Public feedback garnered from the website and travelling exhibition will be incorporated into the Plan.

About National Council of Social Service

NCSS in the umbrella body for over 450 member social service organisations in Singapore. Its mission is to provide leadership and direction in enhancing the capabilities and capacity of our members, advocating for social service needs and strengthening strategic partnerships, for an effective social service ecosystem. Community Chest and Social Service Institute (SSI) are part of NCSS.

About Empowering Seniors Project

The Empowering Seniors Project was initiated in 2015 by NCSS in collaboration with a group of leaders from 15 eldercare agencies to co-create engagement tools that engage seniors more meaningfully and purposefully. To guide practitioners and volunteers to empower seniors, the team brought together eldercare practitioners to design and develop toolkits to facilitate engagements with seniors. One of the toolkits is the Conversation Starter Kit.

About TOUCH Community 

TOUCH Community Services or TOUCH is a not-for-profit charitable organisation, dedicated to meeting the needs of children from low-income or single-parent families, youth at risk, needy families, people with special and healthcare needs, and the frail elderly. Through its network of 18 services, TOUCH is committed to serving people of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds. Each year, its programmes and services meet the needs of more than 28,000 clients and 156,000 service users. For more information on TOUCH, please visit www.touch.org.sg.