Does Singapore have a need for retirement villages?
Families caring for the frail elderly are in for a windfall, with more state subsidies for care in community hospitals, nursing homes and even at home. For the first time, even the richest can get state subsidies for stays in community hospitals.
In this "season of plenty", it may seem politically incorrect to talk about some seniors who feel short-changed about retirement options.
But international senior-living consultant Tan Kee Hian, 57, believes this is as good a time as any to discuss the relative shortage of living choices for Singapore’s growing group of more affluent, older folk.
He says many seniors in the top fifth to 20th percentile of the income scale would gladly part with their savings to live in retirement villages (RVs) which offer professional care and support services such as an on-site round-the-clock emergency response system.
While such communities are common in most developed countries, there are none in space-starved Singapore. Both the public and policymakers seem to prefer "ageing in place" – where people live out their last years in the community rather than in institutions.
But Mr Tan says that while boosting community resources to enable the majority to age in place is a "basic necessity" here, no one solution can fit the needs of all seniors.
"Ageing in place assumes that everyone has similar needs – and that’s a very big assumption. Given the diversity of our First World society, we deserve more choices."
The veteran management consultant is convinced there is a need and even a demand for Western-style retirement villages, and hopes to develop Singapore’s first such project.
He says those who argue that there is absolutely no demand for retirement villages here are divorced from reality.
"If you repeat a myth often enough, it gets mistaken for a fact."
Over the past two years, he has rigorously researched and written a proposal for a $70 million to $80 million retirement living project in Jalan Jurong Kechil, a site the Government has earmarked for the purpose.
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