Over 70,000 HDB households apply for elderly-friendly features at home

Madam Eng Bok Hua, 70, holds on to the grab bars while making her way out of the toilet of her HDB flat.
Madam Eng Bok Hua, 70, holds on to the grab bars while making her way out of the toilet of her HDB flat. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Almost 74,000 households have applied for a scheme that equips Housing Board flats with elderly-friendly safety features.

The Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) scheme, launched in July 2012, allows home owners to fit their flats with improvements such as grab bars, ramps and anti-slip treatment for tiles.

Of all the applicants, about 45,000 opted for Ease under the Home Improvement Programme, while another 28,600 applied for the safety features directly, said the HDB.

One of them is Mr Krishnamuthi Palappan, who amputated his left leg a year ago (Dec 2014) due to complications from diabetes. Moving around at home, especially going to the toilet, became a struggle.

"It was very difficult to move from my wheelchair to the toilet seat," said the former security officer, 69.

With the help of social workers, the Serangoon resident applied for grab bars to be installed in his master bedroom toilet under Ease earlier this year.

He described the six grab bars in his toilet as "very helpful". He said: "Going to the toilet is so much easier now."

In response to feedback from residents and grassroots leaders, the scheme was enhanced in August 2014.

The age criterion for direct applications was lowered from 70 to 65, and the improvements were also extended to the second toilet in a flat.

Because of this, 24,000 households had grab bars installed and slip-resistant floor treatment done in their second toilets.

Some 5,300 households, or a fifth of the direct applicants, also became newly eligible with the lowered age criterion.

The full improvement works cost $2,500, but the Government pays up to 95 per cent of the cost.

This means Singaporean households end up paying only between $125 and $312.50, depending on their flat type. Flat owners who wish to apply directly for Ease can do so on the HDB website or obtain an application form from any HDB branch.