Other than the Lift Upgrading Programme, the Barrier-Free Accessibility (BFA) programme is another popular scheme among HDB residents. Together, they have been changing the landscape of our HDB neighbourhoods.
The BFA started in 2006. It seeks to enhance accessibility for all residents, especially as we prepare for an ageing population. Other than helping the elderly and physcially disabled, the installation of ramps and handrails under the BFA brings daily convenience to many. Parents with baby strollers and housewives returning from marketing with trolleys will also find it a breeze moving around the estates.
After five years of hard work, BFA works have finally been fully implemented at all HDB estates. All in, nearly 7,800 blocks have benefitted from the BFA programme, at a total cost of $23 million.
Implementing BFA was not easy. Some estates have challenging terrains such as steep slopes, which made it harder to build ramps. But through innovative designs and public feedback, HDB and the Town Councils have overcome these constraints.
Inside the HDB home, HDB has also, since 2006, adopted Universal Design (UD), making all HDB homes user-friendly for all ages. The new BTO flats now come with ramps at the main entrance, bathrooms and service yards. The width of walkways within the home and doors to bedrooms and toilets are also wider to cater to the elderly on wheelchairs.
Early this year, HDB further launched the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) Programme for two pilot towns at Bukit Merah and Kallang/Whampoa. Elderly residents can opt for ramps within their flats, grab bars, and slip-resistant treatment to their toilet and bathroom floor tiles.
Feedback on EASE has been positive as the features help the elderly to move about more confidently and more independently at home. Importantly, they help prevent falls. We hope to be able to roll it out to more HDB towns soon.
Ageing of population is a definitive trend. The earlier we make HDB towns elderly friendly, the more ready we will be in enriching the quality of life of our elderly residents.