SINGAPORE: The first assisted living pilot site which will offer seniors the combination of a flat as well as a package of care services is slated to be launched in Bukit Batok next year, said Minister for National Development (MND) Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Mar 7).
The pilot is an effort between MND and the Ministry of Health (MOH), said Mr Wong.
"Assisted living means 'home' and 'care' combined. That's why MND and MOH must come together to offer assisted living. It's not something one ministry can do," he said. "When you go for assisted living, you are not just buying a flat, but a package of care services tied to the assisted living flat."
As the concept is new, MND will conduct focus group discussions to seek views, added Mr Wong.
"We will take in feedback and views from the discussions and ensure that seniors will welcome such an option, and the model will be sustainable for the service providers," he said. "We will work towards the launch of our assisted living pilot site for public housing at Bukit Batok next year."
In her Committee of Supply speech on Wednesday (Mar 6), Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said these focus groups will allow MOH and MND to better understand Singaporeans’ aspirations and "to fine-tune this new option for ageing-in-place before going to market”.
She added that the development could comprise flats with senior-friendly features, complemented by communal spaces like recreation cum dining rooms to "encourage interaction".
A package of programmes and services that can be customised to suit the needs and preferences of seniors will also come bundled together with the home, said Dr Khor.
“For instance, healthy seniors could buy into basic services such as light housekeeping,” she said. “Additional services like care coordination can be layered on as their needs change.”
Mr Wong said on Thursday that such retirement housing models are also being explored for private residential sites as suggested by MP for Bukit Batok, Murali Pillai.
"We are studying potential sites to pilot these assisted living typologies, which includes, as suggested by Mr Murali, the option of converting vacant school sites into retirement homes," said Mr Wong.
But he cautioned against these sites ending up as property plays by private developers when they are offered for bidding.
"We do not want them to take the site, build something and sell the units. With assisted living, this has to be a package of services plus residential units combined," he said.
Appropriate rules will be drawn up to guard against this and details will be provided when ready, added Mr Wong.