Prison cells for elderly inmates

The needs of Singapore's greying population are being addressed across the island, including behind bars. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The needs of Singapore's greying population are being addressed across the island, including behind bars. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Prison Service gets ready to cater to rising number of inmates aged above 60

THE needs of Singapore's greying population are being addressed across the island, including behind bars.

Prisons here are getting their first elderly-friendly cells - 17 in the Changi Prison Complex and six more across other prison institutions. These revamped cells will include features such as support railings, and large flush and shower activation buttons.

Earlier this month, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) invited tenders for the design, supply and installation of elderly-friendly facilities for the 23 cells - the first of their kind.

"The Singapore Prison Service is committed to the safe and secure custody of all inmates," said Deputy Superintendent of Prisons Adrian Lee in response to queries from The Straits Times.

"While the number is relatively small, SPS recognises that some elderly inmates may require additional facilities...While primarily intended for elderly inmates, these features will cater to all who require them," he said.

The proportion and overall number of convicted inmates aged above 60 continue to grow steadily.

There were 126 such convicts in prison in 2006, just 1.1 per cent of the total convicted penal population. These figures more than tripled last year, with 418 aged above 60 making up 4.3 per cent.

Nationally, there were more than 300,000 persons aged 65 years and above in 2008 - equivalent to 8.7 per cent of the population. Overall, Singapore is expected to grey rapidly, with that age segment jumping to 19 per cent by 2030.

According to tender documents obtained by The Straits Times, the cells will be equipped with "huge push buttons" to activate toilet flushing and the shower tap, as well as stainless steel handicap grab-bars.

Wall features have rounded, not sharp, corners, and amenities will also be retrofitted to accommodate mobile commodes - chairs that the elderly can sit on while showering, or that can be used over a toilet bowl.

Anti-slip flooring was featured in separate tender documents put up by SPS in January.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg