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What Singapore's first dementia care village in Sembawang could be like

Timothy Goh on 17 Jul 2019

The Straits Times


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Dementia care villages, such as the one planned for Gibraltar Crescent, encourage residents to live as independently as possible despite their age and condition.


One such village is De Hogeweyk in Amsterdam, where patients are encouraged to shop for their daily needs at a supermarket and eat at restaurants.


Rather than being confined to a room or a bed, residents there are allowed to wander around the village. They also live with other residents in an apartment and have to manage the household with help from staff.


This style of living is said to help slow the rate of decline in dementia patients by discouraging dependency.


The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority said the Gibraltar Crescent village is meant to complement home-based care and dementia daycare services currently available in Singapore.


Associate Professor Reshma Merchant, head and senior consultant at the National University Hospital's division of geriatric medicine, said a dementia village is meant to create happiness and enable residents to lead meaningful lives.


She added that it would be important to ensure, where possible, that the village incorporates the concept of "ageing in place" and is not just restricted to those with dementia.


Hence, she said, there should be facilities in the village for seniors of varying functional and cognitive trajectories, including those with early stages of memory loss, as moving someone with moderate or advanced dementia to a completely new environment may create insecurity and accelerate cognitive and functional decline.


The village at Gibraltar Crescent is one of several initiatives in recent years aimed at dealing with Singapore's ageing population and the issues that arise from it.


On March 7, the Ministry of National Development announced that it was working towards the launch of its first assisted living pilot site for public housing in Bukit Batok next year, and was also exploring such retirement housing models for private residential sites.


The assisted living model in public housing will see seniors buying a home bundled with customisable care services such as housekeeping and 24/7 emergency support.


Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong also announced that MOH will roll out a Caregiver Support Action Plan over the next two years to enhance financial support, flexible work arrangements and respite care options for caregivers.


In 2017, Singapore's first "retirement kampung", Kampung Admiralty, opened its doors to its first residents. The site's two Housing Board blocks house a medical centre, a hawker centre, rooftop vegetable and community gardens, and an active ageing hub.


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


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