A home for people with intellectual disabilities

First such facility for adults will ease worries of ageing caregivers, says President Tan

A new residential home in Sengkang for people with intellectual disabilities will help ease the worries of their ageing parents when it is ready in 2018.

There will be room for 200 residents, around seven in 10 of whom will be people with autism, as well as a day activity centre for 50 adults. Plans for the Adult Disability Home, the first facility of its kind here, were announced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at a charity dinner last night. ''A common concern among families of persons with autism is the availability of care when the caregivers age or are no longer able to provide care,'' said Dr Tan, the guest of honour, in his speech at the event in Regent Hotel.

The new home will be co-developed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and non-profit organisation St Andrew's Autism Centre (SAAC).

It will be operated by SAAC, whose existing day activity centre in Elliot Road sees a rise in clients of around 10 to 15 per cent each year, said chief executive Dennis Ang.

''The new facility is intended to cover a service gap that will grow in time,'' he said, adding that existing services for people with autism are early intervention, special education, day activity centres, workshops and employment assistance.

Currently,65 people, aged from 19 to their early 40s, use the Elliot Road centre. Some will most likely be residents in the future.

''There are parents we have met who say to us they do foresee a day when their son or daughter will need a home,'' said Mr Ang.

He said the home would have single rooms to cater to residents' need for privacy, as well as rooms with two, four or six beds for those who are able to live with others.

There will be facilities for therapy and trained healthcare assistants round the clock in shift teams.

Fees have yet to be decided on, but means-tested subsidies will be available for eligible clients, he said.

Mr Ang stressed that the facility should be available for people who genuinely need a home - for instance, those whose parents have died. But some residents could be on short-term stays if their care givers need a rest, he said, adding: ''Parents and caregivers are the best people to look after them.''

Ms Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre and a Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC, said the new residential home is one way of addressing the service gap for adults with autism .

She added: ''In the longer term, it will be useful to explore other more inclusive models where persons with special needs can live in mini group homes within, for instance, Housing Board blocks with the necessary social and medical support.''

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'A home for people with intellectual disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe