By Jane Foo

Different from other nursing homes under Ren Ci, this atypical project envisions to build a home as opposed to a nursing home, dropping the cold institution and medical facility-like façade, hence creating a warm environment much like a ready home. Traditional Singaporean nursing homes are dorm-like, with six to eight beds placed in a single cubicle and over 50 beds attached on a single floor. However, as people start to value their privacy and freedom more, thisdorm-like setup are slowly falling out of favour.

This home adopts a household cluster-living environment, replicating a typical Housing Development Board (HDB) flat. It comes equipped with 472 beds, grouped in a four beds per room setup, and a shared living space, activity area, dining area, and bathroom amenities. This design enables the residents to live in a private and familiar environment, yet promoting social interaction through the use of common spaces. Additionally, it prevents segregation and isolation, which may pose as a challenge in terms of monitoring and care.

Although the elders require care at a minimum and assistance in daily living, most are essentially not ill. They merely require third parties to watch over since their family members are unable to do so. Thus, this home kills two birds with one stone by allowing its residents privacy and freedom while under the care of watchful eyes.

Ms Loh Shu Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Ren Ci Hospital, shared the inspiration behind this fresh concept. She explained an exploration across nursing homes in Asia; with Japan showcasing nursing homes that felt very suitable for Singapore’s deeply rooted Asian culture. “What we saw was a place where people were as frail as our nursing home residents and yet, are able to live in a very cozy environment.” This cozy environment reminded residents of the homes they live in while they were still well. Introducing this into a local scale, that would be an ordinary HDB flat where most Singaporeans reside in.

Incorporated into the home is a Senior Care Centre (SCC)- notably one of the largest in Singapore at the moment. The SSC provides services such as maintenance and dementia day care, as well as day rehabilitation to support ageing-in-place. Rehabilitation supports seniors through a wide range of social and cognitive activities as they face many physical and emotional changes that can drastically influence their level of function and well-being.



Ren Ci identified that thematic activities benefit patients with Dementia; which comprises approximately 70% of their client base. Therefore, a grocery/provision store was set up in the facility, alongside a postbox and a table tennis area modeled to look like a HDB void deck. This stimulates a homely nostalgia and aids the seniors to reminiscence while actively participating in activities. In addition, the facility offers local recreational games such as mahjong, chess and carat.

Although they managed to cut down the beds per room to four, most people are still accustomed to having their own rooms or at most two to a room while living alone. As such, Ren Ci sees this project as merely the first step towards the HDB nursing home concept and aims to perhaps achieve more in the future. More importantly, this project serves as a stepping stone towards the future of nursing homes in Singapore; one that is capable to cater to elderly of the future who will have varying demands and expectations, and will demand for more privacy and freedom. 

To keep this project up and running, Ren Ci was challenged in convincing and gaining approval from the Ministry of Health (MOH), their funders, as well as their own staff. The nurses come from hospital backgrounds and are conditioned to work in cubicles positioned with a bird’s eye view on all the patients, thus, allowing for efficacy in managing them. On the other hand, in a more home-like environment, this transparency is compromised as people live in separate rooms.

In response to Ren Ci’s plans in the near future, Ms Loh revealed that they strive to always remain relevant to meet the needs of the community, and to encourage continuous living within the communities and families as people age. The aim is to empower the seniors to maintain an independent life in the community by providing them a suite of integrated healthcare services to support ageing in place. These services include home care, clinical & caregiver support and primary health prevention. This can be achieved by having more centres centered on the community rather than focusing on solely building nursing homes. Nonetheless, nursing homes are no doubt still important as people who require more care and assisted living will always prevail.

Check out the latest issue of the Ageing Asia Alliance e-journal for more articles.


Mark Moran, Co-Founder, Mark Moran Group, Australia tells us more
By Janice Chia 

How it all started
There’s existing DA here for apartments and 99.9% of developers and operators would have come in and use the existing DA because it was already there. Evette and I said no, this is an iconic hinterland in Sydney, and so it’s almost a responsibility and certainly an opportunity for us to reflect on the iconism.

So that was our starting point. Rather than just building a seniors development and make it look nice by engaging interior designers to make it look better, we are looking at a sense of place that’s not just 200 years of Australia, but 1,000 years. Often lost in architecture, people build places not beyond their functionality. So what is it? It’s an aged care facility, a retirement village, a rehabilitation centre? If the purpose is to only supply those functions, we will miss out on the ability to see the world.

Life is not about living in a hospital. It’s hard to understand what’s here and the concept. You have to actually see it. I always feel that we’re always caught up with a foul reality where people are getting into the ‘advertising agency mode’ regardless of what they are doing. It is always about e.g. this is the latest model.

It’s the integrity of the execution that you want to see in a company. It requires something that’s deeper in commitment and you won’t get it as an extension of training and seniors planning because generally you’ll be coming from existing paradigm, and you won’t be able to think outside of it. 

Mark Moran quote

Standing by our vision from concept to execution
We believe in bringing to life a vibrant lifestyle through the realisation of spaces firmly dedicated to cultivating a vibrant community and the Spirit of Life. This ethos has been at the heart of the Mark Moran Vaucluse process since the beginning.

The stories that we will built at Mark Moran Vaucluse
Everything has a story. Even the lights are made by an African village on programme that supports the village. This is a place of stories, everything here is a story, and we have such a rich society, history of civilisation and it goes down to even giving our robots names.

Technology did not begin two years ago, it begun 2,000 years ago and it has evolved. So many things like the door, the backdoors are from the 19th century. The stories around the fossils are 300 million years old, and it represent Australia. By celebrating the sense of place, this can be transferred into the programmes, the lifestyle, the offerings. It’s now not a cold corporate indifferent space. One of the most interesting elements is that the staff is able to attract the course of dynamic that has been exceptional. To see that all elements come together, it really differentiates. And that’s exciting!

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