Singapore’s innovative approach to senior well-being: A blueprint for age-friendly communities

Bedok South and Marine Terrace seniors are set to experience a transformative boost in healthy ageing, thanks to an innovative project offering enhanced support and empowerment in their golden years.

Amidst the demographic shift that societies are experiencing due to an ageing population, Singapore is leading the way in creative initiatives to tackle the special opportunities and challenges that come with reaching retirement age. With an emphasis on senior citizens, SingHealth and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have reinforced their collaboration to improve the health of approximately one thousand residents in Bedok South and Marine Terrace.

This innovative partnership, which was revealed on January 16, is a model for other countries going through comparable demographic shifts and demonstrates Singapore’s dedication to building age-friendly communities.

The Community Ageing in Place Ecosystem (Cape) project, an innovative endeavour to improve senior citizens’ quality of life, is at the centre of this cooperative effort. The development of senior-friendly facilities and the purposeful placement of medical professionals in age-related centres are just two of the many interventions that are part of the Cape project.

In a ceremony held at Changi General Hospital to mark the expansion of SingHealth and SUTD’s partnership, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stressed the need for a variety of interventions to support active and healthy ageing. Mr Heng emphasized the significance of developing senior-friendly residences and public areas, utilizing cutting-edge technology for health monitoring, and encouraging an all-encompassing strategy for addressing issues related to ageing. These comprehensive population health initiatives seek to support the elderly and lessen the burden on caregivers as Singapore’s senior population continues to grow.

The Cape project aims to impact other communities, such as Chinatown and Bukit Merah, after initially concentrating on Bedok South and Marine Terrace. This proactive strategy highlights Singapore’s dedication to developing age-friendly, sustainable ecosystems all around the country. The Cape Project is anticipated to grow into a model that other communities around the world can use as they deal with the effects of an ageing population.

Mr Heng recognized the swift demographic shift in Singapore, where the population is becoming more and more of a “super-aged” society. In 2010, only 10% of Singaporeans were 65 years of age or older. By 2030, this demographic segment is expected to have grown to nearly two in five people. The effects of this demographic trend go beyond personal health; they have important social and economic ramifications that call for a review of healthcare systems, labour dynamics, and economic structures.

Mr Heng cited the Pelatok Art Farm, tucked away in Simei, as an example of the beneficial effects of community-centred initiatives. This urban oasis, which was created three years ago by SUTD and Changi General Hospital, is evidence of how such projects can improve community well-being. People actively engage in urban farming, growing their greens while promoting a sense of community and connection with neighbours, regardless of age.

The SingHealth Office of Regional Health’s director of community partnership, Associate Professor Eugene Shum, shared details about Pelatok Art Farm’s active farming operations. He underlined how these physical activities—from farming maintenance to planting and harvesting—have a positive effect on physical health. To further enhance the general health and happiness of the community, the farm also emphasizes mental well-being by combining art, and mindfulness exercises, and giving residents a sense of purpose.

Associate Professor Shum emphasized how Singapore’s urban environment can be strategically used to enhance overall well-being. One excellent example is Pelatok Art Farm, which combines artistic and mindfulness practices with farming activities to promote both physical and mental well-being.

As these programs develop further, they improve senior citizens’ quality of life on a local level and offer a model for creating age-friendly communities around the world. Countries around the world can learn a lot from Singapore’s struggles and achievements in meeting the various needs of its ageing population. Singapore establishes a model for others navigating the challenging terrain of an ageing society by utilizing innovation, community partnerships, and a comprehensive approach.

The Cape Project and Pelatok Art Farm, two of Singapore’s proactive measures to meet the needs of its ageing population, serve as a model for developing age-friendly communities across the globe.