Seniors may get up to 80% subsidy for shared caregiving services in S'pore first assisted living flats in Bukit Batok

Around 160 units will be launched in next month's BTO sales exercise. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Seniors who wish to live in Singapore's first assisted living flats may be eligible for government subsidies of up to 80 per cent for shared caregiving service, which includes showering, dressing and moving around.

The means-tested subsidy will be based on household income and the type of help required, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Monday (Jan 25) during a visit to the community care apartments exhibition at the HDB Hub atrium in Toa Payoh.

The pilot batch of community care apartments in Bukit Batok West Avenue 9 are targeted at those aged 65 and above who wish to live on their own and yet enjoy some care, support and communal activities.

Around 160 units will be launched in next month's build-to-order (BTO) sales exercise and are expected to be completed in 2024.

The optional shared caregiving service will cost around $950 per month before subsidy, and around $1,950 a month if the seniors require feeding services.

Other add-on services that are applicable for subsidy include social day care, meal services, home personal care and medical escort and transport.

These services come on top of a mandatory basic service package that all residents will have to subscribe to and pay for in cash fully or partially upfront with the monthly fee throughout the lease term.

Prices for the package range from $22,000 for a 15-year lease to $59,000 for a 35-year lease. It includes services such as 24-hour emergency monitoring and response service, basic health checks, simple home fixes and activities at the communal spaces within the development.

Mr Masagos, who is also the Second Minister for Health, said the new housing type fills the housing gap for seniors who wish to live independently but still have some assistance with activities of daily living (ADL).

"Some seniors may need a little more help with ADL but may not want a maid to be living with them. We want them to have support within the community where help can be provided on a daily basis if needed," he said.

Seniors must be 65 and above to apply for these flats. They will be able to choose a lease ranging from 15 to 35 years, in five-year increments, as long as it covers the applicant and their spouse, if any, until they are at least 95 years old.

Prices for these flats start from $40,000 for a 15-year lease to $65,000 for a 35-year lease, and must be paid for fully upfront with cash or with Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies.

Government subsidies such as the Silver Housing Bonus, which gives seniors up to $30,000 cash bonus when they sell their existing flat and use the proceeds to top-up their CPF Retirement Account, are applicable.

However, these flats cannot be resold or rented out. Owners who no longer need the flat can return the flat to the Housing Board (HDB), which will refund them the value of the remaining lease of the flat.

Second-time buyers will also be subjected to a resale levy, as with all HDB applications, said an MND spokesman in response to The Straits Times' query.

The pilot batch of community care apartments in Bukit Batok West Avenue 9 are targeted at those aged 65 and above. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Resale levy amount typically depends on the previous subsidised flat type, ranging from $15,000 for a two-room flat to $55,000 for an executive condominium.

Second-time buyers who wish to buy a community care apartment will pay either the resale levy according to their previous subsidised flat type, or $30,000, adjusted according to the length of lease chosen, whichever is the lower amount.

Each unit has an open layout and comes with senior-friendly fittings such as grab bars and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom with slip-resistant flooring.

There will be a furnished communal space on each floor for residents to mingle, and an on-site community manager to facilitate activities.

Around 3,000 people have visited the exhibition, where a show flat is on display since it opened on Dec 14 at the HDB Hub atrium. It will be open till March 31.

Showcase of Singapore's first assisted living HDB flats for seniors in Bukit Batok at Toa Payoh HDB Hub on Dec 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said the pilot batch is to help seniors get familiar with this new housing type.

"We would first like to make sure the concept in terms of the living space, communal activities and programming is something that can work well together as intended. Following that, we'll be looking at how to make adjustments so that it can cater to an even wider range of seniors," she said.

Mr Masagos and Ms Sim were joined by Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment and Transport Amy Khor at the exhibition on Monday.

Silver generation ambassador Hajira Bee, 67, who was a participant in the focus group discussions to give feedback on the flats, said: "It will be like kampung days, where seniors can gather and do activities such as cooking together to keep their minds active. It's better than staying in one place and just watching TV by yourself all day."

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