Singapore currently has thousands of citizens who live alone without assistance and support. Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Elder Aid volunteers deliver a social and wellness programme that includes befriending, eldercare, first aid and first response, to build resilience of elders, to achieve a community ageing-in-place. SRC’s Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) helps seniors living on their own, through a helpline for non-emergency situations, and a monitoring, alert and response system for home safety. However, they are not available with them 24/7.
To ensure that the elderly living alone can always reach out for assistance in times of need, Singapore Red Cross partnered with social and mobile agency, KRDS Singapore and MullenLowe Singapore to develop its first digital volunteer (a Chatbot) on Facebook Messenger called ‘Ella’.
The Ella Bot is designed to communicate and connect with beneficiaries daily. Ella messages the community every day to check on their mood, to remind them to take their medication.
Ella also asks the users how they are feeling at the start of the day. If the user responds with ‘I’m not okay’, the Chatbot automatically sends an email alert to the Singapore Red Cross so the volunteers can reach them immediately. The Chatbot will also be useful for users to sign up as volunteers for the program.
The Chatbot is one example of how technology and specifically, Facebook Chatbots can potentially be used in social service to lend a helping hand to those in need. As one of the most frequently used platforms, Facebook Messenger has the potential to uplift the lives of senior citizens in Singapore using this program.
Commenting on the campaign, Preetham Venkky Director at KRDS Singapore commented,“Loneliness and social isolation have been known to impact a person’s overall well-being and mental health. The Singapore Red Cross has been instrumental in assisting the community of citizens in Singapore that need special assistance. Ella was designed with a simple user interface to deliver its objective of lending a helpful hand at all times. We are positive that this will have a considerable impact on assisting this community in Singapore.”
Still undergoing improvements, Ella was on a trial run amongst beneficiaries of the Singapore Red Cross in May to June 2017.