SINGAPORE – Plans have been announced to build a dementia care village in Sembawang, the first of its kind in Singapore.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Tuesday (July 16) that a site at Gibraltar Crescent has been launched for sale by public tender, as part of efforts to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and broaden the care and residential options available to them.

Dementia care villages encourage residents to pursue their own lives as much as possible despite their age and condition, as opposed to nursing homes which have sometimes been criticised for being too institutionalised.

One such village is De Hogeweyk in Amsterdam, where patients are encouraged to shop for their daily needs at a supermarket and eat at restaurants.

Rather than being confined to a room or a bed, residents there are allowed to wander around the village. They also live with other residents in an apartment and have to manage the household with help from staff .

This style of living is said to help slow the rate of decline in patients by discouraging dependency.

The MOH and URA said the Gibraltar Crescent village will be specially designed to provide a safe, home-like environment where residents are assisted to live independently.

The village is due to provide tailored services and programmes to create meaningful participation and social interaction among its residents.

It is also expected to provide better access to supporting services and amenities in the wider community for people with dementia and their families.

The village complements the home-based care and dementia day care services currently available in Singapore.

“We hope that (it) will offer insights into market demand for such facilities and the community needs of persons with dementia, which will contribute to the development of suitable dementia care models in the future,” the MOH said.

The site for the village comes with a 30-year lease, is located near Sembawang Park and comprises a cluster of 10 state bungalows that sits on two land plots. The larger plot is 26,350 square metres (sq m), while the other plot is 1,756 sq m.

The maximum permissible gross floor area (GFA) is 9,170 sq m, with another 900 sq m for extensions to the 10 existing buildings.

Zoned as residential, at least 60 per cent of the site’s GFA must be used for residential development, while the remaining 40 per cent can be developed for residential use, health and medical care use, shops and restaurants, and/or other ancillary institutional uses.

The URA said it will use a concept and price revenue tender for this sale to ensure that the selected concept proposal aligns with the vision of the dementia care village.

Tenderers will need to submit their concept proposals and tender prices separately.

Concept proposals will be evaluated against criteria such as suitability of the proposed overall model of care for people with dementia and quality of the care programmes and services.

Shortlisted concepts will proceed to the second stage of evaluation, which will be based on price only.

The tender closes on Nov 19.

The village at Gibraltar Crescent is one of several initiatives aimed at caring for the elderly in recent years.

On March 7, the Ministry of National Development announced it was working towards the launch of its first assisted living pilot site for public housing at Bukit Batok next year, and was also exploring such retirement housing models for private residential sites.

The assisted living model in public housing will see seniors buying a home bundled with customisable care services like housekeeping services and 24/7 emergency support.

Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong also announced that MOH will roll out a Caregiver Support Action Plan over the next two years to enhance financial support, flexible work arrangements and respite care options for caregivers.

A guideline to set standards of care in assisted living facilities was also launched that month.

In 2017, Singapore’s first “retirement kampung”, Kampung Admiralty, opened its doors to its first residents. The site’s two HDB blocks house a medical centre, a hawker centre, rooftop vegetable and community gardens, and an active-ageing hub.