SINGAPORE: The sound of children playing and laughing is not something that is commonly associated with nursing homes.
But St Joseph's Home is changing that.
After more than two years of redevelopment, it reopened on Monday (Aug 28) not only with better facilities for its elderly, sick and dying residents, but also a childcare centre and an intergenerational playground - the first such concept for Singapore.
The new childcare centre, which is run by the home, can take in more than 40 children aged two months to six years old.
The playground is not just a place for kids, but has features to accommodate seniors, such as a see-saw with a ramp, and a merry-go-round that has wheel-locks for wheelchairs and custom-built seats for toddlers.
Building facilities for kids in the home also means more opportunities for the young and old to interact through activities like arts and craft.
Speaking at the launch of the new facilities, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor called the intergenerational playground a "trailblazer among nursing homes" in experimenting with shared spaces for the young and old. She added that this signalled a "clear call" to invite more members of the community to join the home in its journey to embrace the country's seniors.
"By leveraging the simple yet universal concept of play, this playground aims to attract more children and young ones to interact with the seniors," said Dr Khor.
The home's executive director Sister Geraldine Tan said: "Having an infant and childcare centre within the home reminds us of the purpose of life and of the importance of play and simplicity ... everyone can find a place to co-exist."
This will not be the only such intergenerational facility in Singapore: According to Dr Khor, the Government is planning for eldercare and childcare facilities to be co-located in about 10 new HDB developments.
The first such site is at Kampung Admiralty, where a childcare centre and an Active Ageing Hub are built next to each other.
"By co-locating the facilities and having operators that will provide inter-generational activities, we hope to create more opportunities for the seniors to gain from the infectious energy of the young, as well as the young to better understand the seniors who share their community," Dr Khor said.