Singapore’s First Assisted Living Vertical Apartments

Located in Bukit Batok West Avenue 9, the 160 units of Community Care Apartments are the first assisted living concept in public housing catered for older adults in Singapore.

Older adults who are 65 years old and above are able to take up short-leases of 15 to 35 years in five-year increments. The Action Plan for Successful Ageing was Singapore’s blueprint to enable older adults to grow and age successfully with confidence.

This Action Plan engages private and public sector organisations to work on initiatives together. Ministries and statutory boards such as the Ministry of National Development (MND), Ministry of Health (MOH), Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) have jointly collaborated to work towards a more age-friendly city where older adults can age gracefully.

While these Apartments hold a smaller-than-usual internal floor area of 32 square metres, the assisted living concept still remains its attractiveness as the units come with senior-friendly features, care services and social activities. According to Mrs Lee who is in her 70s, was enticed by the apartment’s living space. She felt the Community Care Apartment would be “easier to clean up as compared to her (my) current flat.”

Other senior-friendly features and fittings include easy-to-slide partitions that separate living and bedroom spaces, built-in wardrobe and cabinets for storage and a furnished kitchen for meal preparation, large wheelchair-accessible bathroom with slip-resistant flooring and grab bars, as well as a wide wheelchair-friendly main door with a built-in bench beside the entrance.

Furthermore, a furnished communal space is available on every floor so that older adults can catch up with neighbours and participate in various social activities. Mrs Soon who is in her 50s, was attracted to consider purchasing a unit at the Community Care Apartments in future. She looks forward to this new concept of assisted living due to three main reasons, its smaller-than-usual living space, simple and open space layout, and communal space which suits her outgoing personality.

There are some differences between the pricing of these Community Care Apartments and the Two-room Flexi flat scheme introduced in late 2015. The buyers of the Community Care Apartments would need to pay for both the price of the home as well as the mandatory Basic Service Package. The combined costs range from $62,000 for a lease of 15 years to $124,000 for a maximum lease of 35 years.

This Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) is an alternative monetisation option for older adults who wish to maximise the value of their flat while living in it. Although there are prerequisites to be eligible for LBS, HDB also grants special considerations. Mr Zul, who is in his 60s, was not eligible for LBS because he had yet to meet the requirement of a five-year Minimum Occupancy Period at his existing flat. Upon consideration of his health condition, as he is wheelchair-bound, Mr Zul would still be granted access to purchase a unit at the Community Care Apartments.

Community Care Apartments @ Bukit Batok are designed to encourage older adults to be independent. Furthermore, these apartments are conveniently located around amenities such as hawker centres, community garden and fitness stations within the same area. Should residents gradually require greater care in later years of their stay, they will also get priority access to the nearby Bukit Batok Care Home.

The compulsory Basic Service Package includes 24-hour emergency monitoring and response services, basic health checks and simple home fixes. On-site community managers would be responsible for an estimate of 2 older adults each and organise community activities or connect them to other eldercare services. This is akin to concierge services provided for by hospitality organisations. There are also additional services that can be purchased such as social day care, meal services and home personal care.

Mrs Lee expressed her support for the introduction of this compulsory Basic Service Package. She remarked, “The S$50/month partial payment for the compulsory Basic Service Package is not too expensive, especially for those who require these care services. If you get [external vendors], you would be paying way more than this amount.”