Consider building retirement villages on S'pore's islands

Kampung Admiralty which won World Building of the Year 2018 award is an integrated retirement village that combines public housing for seniors, healthcare, childcare and community facilities under one roof.
Kampung Admiralty which won World Building of the Year 2018 award is an integrated retirement village that combines public housing for seniors, healthcare, childcare and community facilities under one roof. PHOTO: DARREN SOH

Singapore has 63 islands - a piece of trivia not known to most.

While they come in different shapes and sizes, the Government and developers could consider building world-class retirement villages on those that are viable.

In my line of business, I have come across proposals for the development of retirement villages in Asean countries.

But they are often not viable and the key reasons include piecemeal development, less-than-ideal locations, returns versus cost and no strong supporting medical facilities and community.

The Government must be lauded for building Kampung Admiralty, which has received positive feedback.

The islands will offer different value propositions, including:

•Natural greenery and possible seaside living: Such an environment will be therapeutic and supports the well-being and recovery of seniors.

•Integrated and holistic development: Too often, I have heard of wonderfully built medical facilities for seniors, but which are clinical and "soulless". Also, land cost and size prevent retirement homes or villages from catering to the different stages of ageing and healthcare needs. Imagine building retirement villages that can address all such deficiencies on the chosen islands - where the possibilities are endless.

•Home-away-from-home: A healthier and holistic living environment on the islands does not imply a lower living standard as strong connectivity to the mainland (via bridges or underwater tunnels) will allow for easy access to everything on the mainland. Also, inter-generational bonding continues unabated with ease of travel and no sovereignty issues.

The rising trend of an ageing population is evident in many countries. It would be a visionary and ground-breaking achievement if Singapore can lead the way in providing a holistic approach to retirement villages rather than adopting best practices from other countries.

Singapore's islands can become the shining jewels for retirement villages.

George Ong Yong Tze

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Consider building retirement villages on S'pore's islands'. Print Edition | Subscribe