Singapore Together: National Diabetes Reference Materials

The NDRM was a recommendation from the Citizens’ Jury for the War on Diabetes in 2017. The participants wanted credible and accessible information on a centralised platform for individuals who may be shy about discussing their condition and challenges with healthcare professionals, in clinical settings or during home visits. The fundamentals of diabetes self-care have been published on Diabetes Hub.
 Singapore Together Diabetes project


Number of participants: About 700 citizens and 20 facilitators from the Ministry of Health (MOH)

Stakeholders involved:

  • A core team of four officers: three from the MOH and one from the Health Promotion Board (HPB), supported by their respective team leads
  • Participatory design consultants and vendor Participate in Design

Period of engagement: Three months (September to November 2019)

Engagement methods used: Community Pop-up Sessions and Citizen Design Workshop. These are a participatory engagement approaches that engage citizens, through design tools, in the planning process for an issue that affects them or is important to the wider citizenry.

Shubaashini Vijayamohan
Manager, Communications and Engagement Group
Ministry of Health

For Shubaashini, being involved in the engagement for the NDRM is a return to her engagement efforts for the Citizens’ Jury for the War on Diabetes, back in 2017.

This time, she took part in designing the overall engagement strategy for phases one to four, and co-designed phases one and two with consultants Participate In Design. As part of a core team of four officers, she also facilitated the community pop-up workshops in phase one and was the co-lead facilitator for the citizen design workshop.

Citizen Design

Phase 1: Community pop-ups

Phase 2: Citizen Design workshop

Phase 3: Drafting of in-depth NDRM materials

Phase 4: Testing the in-depth NDRM


The team also worked with the HPB to refine the engagement processes, and had venue support from the various healthcare clusters.

This engagement has provided the MOH with another platform to continue its engagement with the Citizens’ Jury participants. Some returned as facilitators for phase one, and as participants for phase two. “We continue to partner with them as our ambassadors,” she says.

Other stakeholders such as healthcare professionals who sit in the patient empowerment for self-care workgroup, gained first-hand insights through these engagement platforms, and found that this lent more credibility to their work.

Learning points

Explore ways to make the engagement inclusive

This will depend on the intent of the engagement. Unlike closed-door engagement sessions, going out into the community via the citizen pop-up workshops reaches a wider audience, including people we would otherwise not meet in a random selection such as hearing-impaired persons, children, and those with minimal mobility.

Set the engagement ‘right’ from the start

The team brought in a participant from the past Citizens’ Jury to share how the recommendation for the NDRM arose, and the work that has been done so far. This sharing made the engagement objectives clear and vivid: everyone was there to co-create the NDRM, not merely provide feedback. Drawing the scope of discussion with an active citizen also helped inspire other participants.

Design the process from the citizens’ perspective

Citizens will only be willing to continue with the engagement when they enjoy the interactions with facilitators, find the engagement meaningful, and feel connected with the process of engagement. So it is important to design the process such that both citizens and facilitators feel valued.

The community pop-ups in Phase One involved an open-ended survey to learn what else citizens would like to see in the NDRM toolkit. Phase Two synthesised all the ‘asks’ into a wireframe.

The participants who were keen to return for Phase two were those who had enjoyed their interaction with the facilitators in the previous phase, and found the community pop-up meaningful. They were happy to receive the call for another session.

Another participant had family commitments but turned up with his toddler because of his positive experience from the Citizen’s Jury on diabetes.

Trust is the bedrock of running citizen engagement efforts

Most officers find doing engagement “more work”, says Shubaashini. But with more trust, the perspective and process can get better.

One way to develop trust is to build capabilities. The MOH team arranged for a training workshop by Participate in Design to learn about participatory design methods. Senior leaders also attended the training and engagement sessions to observe and learn.

“With greater know-how, there is more trust within oneself, the senior leaders, the agency and partners. This translated to faster clearance processes and more confident execution,” says Shubaashini. She also built up her skills through online courses and workshops outside of work hours.

    Jan 24, 2020
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