SINGAPORE: Singapore's first public integrated development to be extensively designed with elderly-friendly features was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (May 12).
The 11-storey Kampung Admiralty, located next to Admiralty MRT station, houses about 100 flats for seniors, along with healthcare, wellness and commercial facilities like a supermarket and hawker centre, all under one roof.
The pilot project, which was conceptualised by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) more than four years ago, aims to encourage active living among seniors, as well as inter-generational bonding.
There is also a childcare centre within the development.
Mr Lee said HDB had come up with the idea against the backdrop of an ageing population.
"We wanted people to lead active and meaningful lives. And HDB looked for new ideas to develop new designs that would fit an elderly population - to build flats, common areas, and neighbourhoods to promote strong social support and community bonding, and to let people in their silver years stay socially engaged, and live safely, healthily and happily," he said.
FACILITATING ACTIVE AGEING
Under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, the project is the first to co-locate eldercare and childcare facilities, with a childcare centre, as well as a community park and playground, located beside an Active Ageing Hub run by NTUC Health. The one-stop hub integrates active ageing and care services for elderly residents, such as day care and assisted living services.
Programmes encouraging inter-generational bonding are also organised weekly, such as outdoor activities and music and art sessions.
"These joint activities and regular interactions encourage the young and old to bond together," said Mr Lee. "It's a wonderful way for the young people to learn empathy and respect, and also to lift the spirits of the elderly, when they see the children’s joy and vitality, they too will smile and perk up - and perhaps laugh and sing and dance as well."
The development also houses the two-level Admiralty Medical Centre, as well as a hawker centre run by NTUC Foodfare and NTUC FairPrice. A skyrise community farm located on the rooftop allows residents to plant and harvest the edibles, with more than 30 tropical plants being grown.
Its sheltered 1,000 sq m community plaza has held more than 50 group activities over the last year, including weekly fitness exercises, movie screenings and carnivals.
REVIVING THE 'KAMPUNG' SPIRIT
But it’s not just about the hardware. Residents Channel NewsAsia spoke to said they appreciate the "kampung" spirit fostered in the close-knit community.
One of them is 70-year-old Ho So Wah, who is moving in with his 68-year-old wife next month, with the couple already active participants in the neighbourhood.
"The best part is we know more people, especially of our own age, so we can help each other, so anything we can ask," said Mr Ho. "Although our children will come every week, but it’s better to have more people around here and we can spend the time inside the hub too."
"Before I move here … nothing. Just go home, work, go home, work. Even neighbour also close the door," said 58-year-old Doris Yuen. "But here no, everybody very friendly."
"This is kampung, like sister, brother, all together so we help each other. This is what we want," said the resident, who moved in with her husband last year. "At our age I don’t care if big house or small house, as long as there’s home for us that’s good. So I like this place very much. I hope Singapore can have more this kind of things for senior citizens so they don’t feel lonely."
Spearheaded by seven agencies, the project has been recognised for its innovative design and approach. Partners of this initiative received the inaugural May Day Innovative Breakthrough Award, in recognition of the inter-agency efforts facilitating ageing-in-place.
Said Mr Lee: "This is a small kampung - modest in scale but bold in ambition. We will make it succeed, and when it is successful, we will build more kampungs like this in future HDB estates."