Both Sides, Now embarked on a three-year journey, working closely with Yishun Health in Chong Pang (2017-2018) and Montfort Care in Telok Blangah (2017-2019) to create end-of-life-friendly communities that support individuals and their families in making informed decisions about end-of-life plans.
This approach involved ground research within the two geographical communities, followed by public outreach events in the form of performances and participatory activities every 6-8 months. This enabled community members to engage with the issues over time and more than once, and opportunities to bring family and friends for conversations on site. The final year of this edition involved a large-scale public outreach carnival in Telok Blangah with multiple performances, installation, participatory activities and programmes targeted at children.
As well, this edition involved 5 different artists who worked with 60 community members through arts workshops and the co-creating of artworks which were installed during the public outreach in 2018 (Chong Pang) and 2019 (Telok Blangah). This allowed a smaller group of residents who were seniors an opportunity for deeper reflection, exploration and communication about end-of-life issues with their loved ones but also their neighbours, and community.
As with previous editions, volunteers were recruited and trained for this edition, and formed a crucial aspect for outreach and engagement.
Adopting a longer-term, community-centric approach was insightful and rewarding, as the engagement efforts in this edition were able to deeply impact residents and the wider public. Specifically, the team learnt how to contextualise approaches to create end-of-life-friendly communities based on different demographics.
This included adopting a placemaking approach for a block of residents in Telok Blangah to create a safe, and welcoming space for community engagement, and building. The transformation of this space into a place that became the eventual site for an exhibition of artworks co-created by residents and artists, programming and end-of-life conversations.
More than 12,000 members of the public were engaged through various public outreach events and festivals between 2017-2019. Of which, 95% expressed a better understanding of end-of-life issues and 85% indicated intent to follow up on the topics. More than 300 volunteers and care workers were trained for this edition to engage with the public and community.
A toolkit of creative approaches to having end-of-life conversations for care staff was also developed during this edition, with accompanying training on facilitation.
Overall, the team observed the long-term potential towards community development if the project could continue in these communities beyond these initial years, as residents’ capacities, as well as relationships were being developed. Also, the seed for developing a more culturally competent approach with the Malay-Muslim community was sown from working more intimately with a group of Malay-Muslim residents in Telok Blangah.