Singapore’s first retirement community officially opened its doors on May 12 this year to a big fanfare and ribbon cutting by our PM. The PM called it a “modern kampung” in his speech referring to a concept led by HDB some four years back. Residents who were lucky enough to be balloted to one of the two residential blocks that housed 100 studio apartments, picked up their key in August. Some are still busy moving in and ready to call this “kampung” their home.
After all the fanfare and publicity, I decided to see for myself if Kampung Admiralty did live up to the hype some five months later.
- After parking in the basement, I took the elevator up. I was impressed that all the amenities and facilities are all easily accessible by elevator – including the food court, supermarket, medical center, senior daycare, childcare and even the MRT. Nothing is far once you exit. The architects have made sure the entire village is wheelchair friendly. I could walk from the MRT station to the studio apartments without encountering any stairs. I also noticed that the footpaths are wider and able to accommodate the seniors who tend to walk slower than the rest of us. In terms of accessibility, I would give it an A+.
- As a retirement village, access to healthcare is very important as seniors tend to need to see their GPs or specialists more frequently. The Admiralty Medical Center, a part of the National Healthcare Group, is a multi level facility located within the building complex. The Medical Centre is much more than your typical polyclinic – their facilities include some services normally found in a hospital:
- Specialist Outpatient Clinics
- Day Surgery & Endoscopy Suite
- Rehabilitation Gym
- X-ray & Ultrasound Suite
- Medical Laboratory
Best of all, you have access to this world class outpatient specialist facility just taking the elevator down from where you live!
- In addition to the beautiful roof top garden on the 9th floor, there are plenty of greenery everywhere. As you walk through the common areas on every floor or look out the glass window from the Medical Center, you feel like you are nestled within a beautifully landscaped garden. I felt more relaxed here because it does not feel like your typically densely populated residential HDB estate.
- Another important aspect of a senior living facility is convenient access to amenities and services. In B1, there is a large NTUC Supermarket and in L2, there is a large foodcourt that serves both halal and non-halal food. The Medical Centre Pharmacy is located in L1 together with many popular restaurants. If you need to look for more shops, just a few hundred feet away are the usual outlets that you will normally find in most heartland HDB townships. Again, nothing is far and all are wheelchair friendly.
- Calling this place a “retirement village” may not be entirely correct. To make sure that Kampung Admiralty does not eventually become just an exclusively “old folks” village, it has childcare and pre-school facilities co-located next to senior daycare and active ageing hub. Another feature of the kampung is an active volunteer community — to provide support and companionship to the elderly residents in the daycare facility and also to support other active ageing activities. I guess that is what the “kampung spirit” is all about.
- I also like the way HDB uses technology to get the community to help one another. If you are in a hospital, you will be familiar with the “call button” by each ward or bed. They have implemented a “call button” system in the residential blocks that rely on neighbors to help one another. There is an “alert” notice that would signal that one of your neighbors may need help by looking at the screen located on each floor above the elevators (picture below).
- When I was there, there seems to be a lot of activity in the “town square” and it certainly does not feel like a lonely aged home. There were kid activities along side with a group of seniors exercising led by an activity leader. Like any other silver community, the last thing you want is to have it feel “old” … Kampung Admiralty does not.
I am encouraged by the retirement village concept pioneered by HDB – which is both bold and innovative. If this is their first attempt, I am really looking forward to their next roll out. I am sure the private sector developers can also learn from this experiment and perhaps offer their own version. Overall, I think Singapore is off to a good start in rethinking about ageing-in-place by reinventing the “kampung”.
(Note: Would be nice to be able to get a peek at the inside of the studios but I did not get the chance this time.)