A new type of public housing with elderly-friendly features and subscription to care services would be an effective way to fulfil the different needs of seniors under one roof, experts told CNA on Monday (Dec 14).
It was announced last week that the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in Bukit Batok, Singapore, known as Community Care Apartments, target homebuyers aged 65 and above who want to live on their own but receive care if needed.
Residents will subscribe to a basic service package, which gives them access to 24-hour emergency monitoring and response, basic health checks and simple home fixes.
These will be facilitated by an onsite community manager, who will also organise social activities.
The flats fill a gap in the housing market for seniors, said Huttons Asia’s head of research Lee Sze Teck.
With its extra care services, he said that the apartments are a “step up” from two-room Flexi flats, which are short-lease units with senior-friendly features.
On the other hand, it is one rung below nursing homes or dedicated institutions, providing variety for seniors who find themselves between different stages of their lives, he said.
Mr Lee also noted that a centralised care and service provider in the HDB block would solve space constraints for ageing households.
“In other housing types for seniors, such as two-room Flexi flats, the concern is: ‘If I need a helper, I don’t have space for her to live in my apartment.’ This addresses that," he said.
Dr Angeline Seah, head of Geriatric Medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said the model “plugs the physical, cognitive or psychological needs of seniors”.
On the physical front, apart from having slip-resistant floors and wheelchair-friendly doors, a new and refreshed flat would be safer for residents, Dr Seah said.
She added that this is because many seniors may occupy old, large flats that are challenging to maintain, resulting in greater risks of electric or fire hazards, for example.
The new housing model would also remove the potential stress of having to hire a foreign domestic worker, or having to adapt to life with a housemate in rental flats, Dr Seah told CNA.
“For seniors with a lifetime of entrenched habits and expected challenges in learning due to ageing, it is cognitively heavy and psychologically stressful to have to adapt and they may not have the resilience to re-equilibrate.”
She added that the extra “a la carte” services, such as personal care or meal delivery, also create flexibility in matching the needs of different people who live in the same block.
The focus on active ageing would also preserve or strengthen the seniors’ “residual functional ability or health reserves”, she said.
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