Extract of National Day Rally 2023 Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong on Making HDB Homes and Precincts More Senior-Friendly

Aug 21, 2023

Besides encouraging active ageing, we will also make our HDB homes and precincts more senior-friendly. Many seniors have told us that they want to live out their golden years in their own homes and neighbourhoods. It is a familiar environment, a cosy sanctuary, and they have established deep roots and meaningful friendships. This is a very good thing. We will help as many seniors to age in place as we can. We need to make a few moves to realise this.

First, we will make your homes more senior-friendly. Today, under the EASE programme (Enhancement for Active Seniors), you can install fittings like ramps to help you get in and out of your homes. In toilets, you can install grab bars and make the floors slip-resistant for safety. Soon, seniors can choose from an expanded suite of fittings under EASE 2.0. For example, you can have foldable shower seats, you can have your toilet entrances widened, so that if you or your spouse needs a wheelchair, your wheelchair can be brought into the toilet, and life can be safer and much more convenient.

Secondly, we will make it safer and more comfortable for seniors to move about their neighbourhoods. For example: we will revamp streets and linkways frequented by seniors; we will build more shelters and rest points; also more therapeutic gardens, fitness trails, and exercise machines, to encourage seniors to stay active. The roads will be made more pedestrian-friendly. For example, longer green man signals to give seniors more time to cross the road. You see down here, 36 seconds – the motorcycles and cars have to wait, does not matter, old folks’ safety is important. This is their home, their area, we put them first. Barrier-free ramps and raised zebra crossings so that wheelchair users can cross over without having a step to go down and a step to come back up again at the curb; 3D road markings and narrowed roads to slow the cars down. We will also install larger and more colourful block signs, with familiar symbols to help seniors remember their own block and find their way home. This is not where the satay stall is – it is the Satay Block, Block 113 in Kebun Bahru.

Third, for those who need a little more help, we will build more assisted living facilities. Take for example IDeAL – the Integrated Dementia Assisted Living project at Block 115. At the Kueh Lapis Block, Block 115 in Kebun Baru. I went to open it last year. It is a ground-up project by Dementia Singapore, with some Government support, to help seniors with mild dementia. Many of the seniors live in their own flats in this block. The void deck has become their community living room, where seniors have fun and games, exercise, get their haircuts, and eat together. Whenever a senior needs anything, he or she will go to the second floor. The residents affectionately call this “Ji Lao” – the Second Floor. There are shared facilities there like a community kitchen, where they cook and hang out, and a telehealth room, where staff can monitor their vital signs and arrange for telemedicine checkups. All at Ji Lao! At IDeAL, seniors with dementia can live happily on their own upstairs, and enjoy the warmth and care of friends and community downstairs. HDB is building similar assisted living projects called Community Care Apartments. They will serve not just seniors suffering from dementia, but also those who are well. We will need a whole range of these facilities – whether for assisted living, or the AACs – to serve old folks with different needs. Some of these already exist today. But we need to improve them, scale them up, and get ready for the large numbers down the road.

We will keep making Singapore a more friendly home for current and future seniors: investing resources to senior-proof your homes; making precincts safer and easier to navigate; and constructing more assisted living residences, with integrated accommodation, care, and community facilities. We will do this across Singapore, starting with the towns with the most seniors like Ang Mo Kio and Bukit Merah.

So we are taking major steps to prepare for a super-aged society. It is part of a new national programme called “Age Well SG”, which will complement Healthier SG in improving the health of our seniors. The Ministries will share more about this in the coming months.

Together, we will make Singapore an endearing home for all ages, where seniors can age with dignity and grace, connected with friends and family.