Come September, Singapore’s first Housing Board, “retirement kampung,” will be ready for residents. Construction for this project was launched three years ago and is now nearing completion.

At the moment, it is partially open – with a pharmacy and parts of a medical centre up and running.

Establishment consists of childcare centre and facilities for the elderly

The establishment is located next to the Admiralty MRT Station, featuring about 100 studio flats for the elderly. The building boasts outstanding facilities such as a childcare centre, eldercare amenities and a community park on the sixth floor. These are integrated with a vegetable farm, 900-seat hawker centre and nearly 20 dining and retail outlets.

To boost inter-generational bonding, Kampung Admiralty is the first of 10 similar HDB Build-To-Order projects with the co-existence of childcare and senior centres. All these complexes will be erected from 2015 to 2025 with a SGD3 billion fund to enable Singaporeans “age in place”.

Countries such as Japan and the United States pioneered the move to co-locate nurseries and eldercare facilities – with Singapore is following suit. Recently, the effects of reduced social interaction linked to loneliness, rapid mental decline, higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and death in seniors have been strewn across international headlines. Projects such as Kampung Admiralty could aid in combating this rising problem.

As the ageing population continues to grow in Singapore, similar efforts have been put in place. For example, NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health launched a programme to encourage seniors and children to regularly participate in activities together.

During the Ministry of National Development’s (MND) National Day Observance Ceremony on 8 August, Kampung Admiralty bagged a Minister's Team Award – amongst other awards by varying ministries. It was conferred the honour for aspects such as innovation, teamwork and impact.

Combating loneliness, further enhancing accessibility

Woodlands residents are highly anticipating the opening of this modernised ‘kampung’. Expressing his anticipating towards the establishment, 75-year-old environmental health officer David Wong said that “it's good, having old and young together. The older people won't feel so lonely.”

Others like Administrative officer Melor Mohamed also commented on the active ageing hub saying, “At least when the elderly people see children, it will bring a smile to their faces. The children can also learn from the elderly.” Her 77-year-old mother resides with her in a flat just a five-minutes walk away from the new building. In this case, she says it would be more convenient for her mother to go for medical check-ups.

Nonetheless, some are still sceptical about the active ageing centre. Retiree Jackie Chan, who has been residing in Woodlands for over 20 years, echoed, “I'll use it only if it's free, or affordable – around SGD2 or SGD3.”

The project is developed by the HDB, in collaboration with the Health Ministry, Alexandra Health System, the National Environment Agency, National Parks Board, Land Transport Authority and Early Childhood Development Agency.

Speaking at the MND ceremony, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong remarked that the winning projects had common themes – willingness to experiment, take risks or innovate, a refusal to accept the status quo, and collaboration across agencies.

He proclaimed, “Sceptics will tell you to play it safe. But work hard to prove them wrong, and make things happen as the pioneers did.” MIMS

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