Forum: Extend assisted living public housing option to people with disabilities

I am excited to read about the first assisted living public housing project for seniors launched for sale by the HDB (Assisted living units among 3,740 BTO flats for sale, Feb 5).

With our ageing population, it is timely to have such new housing concepts with services to support seniors who wish to live on their own, yet enjoy some assistance and communal activities.

Another group that should be considered is persons with disabilities.

As our society becomes a more caring and inclusive one, there is greater acceptance of persons with disabilities. The Enabling Village is a good example of how people of all abilities can learn, work and play together in an inclusive space.

While institutional care is suitable for those with higher support needs, there are many persons with disabilities who are able to live in the community with some help from the people around them and the Government.

As a caregiver to a son with special needs who is in his 20, I do worry about his living arrangements. Children like my son are no different from others - they, too, grow up and need to gain independence. However, they need more time and a longer runway to learn to live independently.

Parents and caregivers also need time to see their children with disabilities living well in the community for our own peace of mind.

If my son has a flat with assisted living facilities and services, such as security, housekeeping and medical support, I can teach him daily living skills and help him to build ties with neighbours who can look out for him. He can also learn how to use the amenities in the neighbourhood, buy food from the hawker centre and take public transport to work.

Adapting to a new living environment takes time, especially for persons with disabilities who may have mobility or communication challenges, and health conditions or other concerns. Such arrangements ought to factor in care planning for persons with disabilities, and it will take time to put in place the right support to make things work.

I hope caregivers and persons with disabilities have the opportunity to partner the Housing Board, SG Enable and the Ministry of Social and Family Development over the issue of assisted living public housing options for persons with disabilities.

This will ease many ageing caregivers' concerns for the living arrangements of their loved ones with disabilities when they are no longer around.

Soh Lai Mui