SINGAPORE: Seniors living in older flats with multi-step entrances will soon be able to enter and exit their homes more easily and safely.
There are about 170,000 such homes in Singapore and from Wednesday (Dec 5), the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will offer ramps for residents living in one of them under its Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme.
With these improvements, home owners can install either a portable ramp, suitable for units with sufficient space in front of the entrance, or a customised ramp, which can be fitted specifically to the unit’s configuration and is better suited for units located along the corridor.
Home owners who are Singapore citizens and have at least one member of the household aged 65 and above using a wheelchair or aged 60 to 64 requiring assistance for daily self-care are eligible for the scheme. Residents whose units are undergoing the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) will be offered the EASE programme together with HIP. Those whose flats are not undergoing HIP can apply directly to HDB to have the ramps installed.
An HDB-appointed contractor then will assess the site and advise owners on what type of ramp would be suitable for the entrance of their flat.
Additionally, in cases where ramps cannot be installed due to site constraints, a mechanical wheelchair lifter suitable for use in HDB estates may also be offered to residents.
The lifter, which costs more and requires regular maintenance, will be introduced in a separate pilot and not part of the EASE programme. Households may choose to install the wheelchair lifter at a 50 per cent subsidy, in addition to an S$80 annual servicing fee payable by the owner from the second year onwards.
Residents living in flats in which these solutions will not be feasible may also approach HDB to discuss alternatives.
The ramps were first announced in April.
The EASE programme, launched in July 2012, was introduced to help seniors living in HDB flats navigate their homes safely and easily. To help owners, the Government offers subsidies depending on the flat type, up to 95 per cent of the cost.
Elderly-friendly fittings such as slip-resistant tiles and grab bars for bathrooms are among the measures under the scheme. For more information on EASE (Direct Application), the public may visit the HDB InfoWeb or call its branch service line at 1800-225-5432.