We piloted HDB’s EASE (Enhancement for Active Seniors) programme in two towns – Bukit Merah and Kallang/Whampoa Towns in July 2012. The purpose of EASE is to help seniors age in place and to reduce the risk of falls at home. Such falls have been the main cause of admission to hospital emergency departments. Minimising falls therefore prevents pain, suffering and unnecessary hospitalisation.
How to prevent falls at home?
Consultation with seniors and experts like occupational therapists revealed that a few simple retrofits at home can be effective: grab bars in toilets, enhanced slip-resistant treatment on floors in toilets and bathrooms. In addition, good ramps to help those on wheelchair moving around are also desirable.
That was how the EASE programme came about. To put theory into practice, we launched EASE as a pilot. Most of the expenses for putting in these retrofits are borne by HDB, with Singapore Citizen households having to pay only between 5 to 12.5% of the cost, depending on the flat type.
EASE turned out to be useful and popular, with more than 1,700 households applying for it since the pilot launch in July 2012.
We have decided to make EASE available nationwide. Seniors may apply for EASE directly with HDB. We are also working with hospitals to help make EASE known to those discharged patients whom they think can benefit from it.
Last week, I visited Mdm Wong Foong Meng, staying at Ubi Avenue 1, who has benefited from EASE. She’s 85 years old and recently suffered a fall in her flat, and was hospitalised for hip and shoulder surgery.
While in hospital, her son, Danny, applied for EASE. HDB coordinated with the contractor so that all the EASE improvement items were installed before her discharge.
I’m glad to see Mdm Wong recuperating well at home. She now moves around the flat with confidence and peace of mind.
To reach out to more senior residents, HDB officers have come up with some rather innovative methods to promote awareness of EASE. Recognising that our seniors may be more comfortable communicating in their mother tongues or dialects, they have produced videos to explain the features and benefits of EASE in different languages and dialects. One HDB staff even drew cartoons to help explain the administrative process!
Yesterday, HDB also launched a mobile app, making applications even more convenient.
If you or your neighbours think that EASE can be useful, HDB is just a phone call away.
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