Learning > Inspiration

Small touches make all the difference

Janice Tai on 24 Jun 2018

The Straits Times


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At 76, retired teacher Ng Ah Mun is in robust health.


Other than not being able to stand for too long due to swelling in her legs, she has no major health worries.


Yet last Thursday morning, she went on a tour of an assisted living facility at 3 Adam Road, which could be her new home one day.


"I am relatively young and able now, but I have to prepare for the time when I am not able to take care of myself," said Madam Ng, who lives by herself in a three-room flat in Toa Payoh. She has a daughter who has her own home.


During her tour of the new Adam Road facility, Madam Ng saw a pool with grab bars, wheelchair access in the garden, a lift to serve the second and third storeys where the rooms with ensuite toilets are, a spacious living room as well as indoor and outdoor kitchens.


There was also a nurse station on the second floor, and she was told there are two live-in staff members.


Madam Ng noticed that all the rooms came with "Alexa", a virtual assistant developed by Amazon. Seniors can issue voice commands to call for the nurse or follow Alexa's instructions when doing exercises in their rooms.


Sensors in the room help ensure safety. If the door is closed, for instance, the door sensor will detect that and increase the sensitivity of the motion sensors to monitor if the senior is inactive for too long.


Data collected on a senior's activity levels would also enable care providers to track if he is more lethargic after a change in medication, for example.


Rooms at the facility cost between $5,000 and $7,000 a month, depending on size. There are eight rooms in total, all not occupied yet.


Residents can cook their own meals or have their food catered. A nurse aide or healthcare attendant is on duty throughout the day to help residents with their medication or showering if needed.


But assisted living facilities like this are rare in Singapore and most seniors who need long-term nursing care now opt for the typical six-to eight-bedded rooms in nursing homes. Fees for such homes range from $1,200 to $3,500 a month, before government subsidies. Single-bed rooms in nursing homes usually cost $4,000 to $6,500 a month.


A group of five philanthropists from Singapore said in March that they intend to develop the first purpose-built assisted living facility here. It will have 50 rooms and be ready by 2021.


Madam Ng said she has visited several nursing homes but did not like them.


"Those places are dull and cramped and I don't think I can talk much to the people living there," said Madam Ng, who will either hire a domestic helper or move into an assisted living facility when she gets frailer. She enjoys playing mahjong, watching cable television and doing crafts in her free time.


Of the Adam Road facility, she said: "It is homely and I think I can connect better with the people. People like me can afford it and are prepared to spend the money so I hope developers will come up with more such facilities."


Janice Tai


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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