Singapore's first Housing Board "retirement kampung" is partially open, with its building slated to be ready for residents by next month.
Construction for Kampung Admiralty, which was launched in 2014, is nearly complete. Already, a pharmacy and parts of a medical centre were open for business when The Straits Times visited it this week.
On the sixth floor, a childcare centre and eldercare facilities are sited alongside a community park. They will be integrated with some 100 studio flats for the elderly, a vegetable farm and a hawker centre.
The complex next to Admiralty MRT station is the first of 10 such HDB Build-To-Order projects that co-locate childcare and senior centres to encourage inter-generational bonding. They will be built over a decade from 2015, as part of a $3 billion plan to help Singaporeans "age in place".
Singapore is following in the footsteps of societies like Japan and the United States, where nurseries and facilities for seniors have been combined under one roof. Such social interaction, some studies found, has been associated with reduced loneliness, delayed mental decline, lowered blood pressure and a smaller risk of disease and death in seniors.
As Singapore ages, similar initiatives are under way. For instance, NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health had launched a programme to get children and seniors to take part in regular activities together.
Yesterday, Kampung Admiralty was one of 15 projects that received Minister's Team Awards at the Ministry of National Development's National Day Observance Ceremony - one of several by different ministries - for traits such as innovation, teamwork and impact.
Already, Woodlands residents are looking forward to its opening.
Environmental health officer David Wong, 75, said: "It's good, having old and young together. The older people won't feel so lonely."
Administrative officer Melor Mohamed, whose 77-year-old mother lives with her, said of the active ageing hub: "At least when the elderly people see children, it will bring a smile to their faces. The children can also learn from the elderly."
The 44-year-old, whose flat is a five-minute walk from the complex, said Kampung Admiralty would make it more convenient for her mother to go for medical check-ups.
But some are keeping a wait-and- see attitude. Retiree Jackie Chan, 86, who has lived in Woodlands for over 20 years, said of the active ageing hub: "I'll use it only if it's free, or affordable, around $2 or $3."
The project is developed by the HDB, together with the Health Ministry, Alexandra Health System, the National Environment Agency, National Parks Board, Land Transport Authority and Early Childhood Development Agency.
Speaking during yesterday's ceremony at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the winning projects had three common themes: a refusal to accept the status quo, willingness to experiment, take risks or innovate, and collaboration across agencies.
"Sceptics will tell you to play it safe. But work hard to prove them wrong, and make things happen as the pioneers did," he said.
The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.