Sunday 3 August 2014

HDB expands EASE to benefit 100,000 more elderly households

Help for 100,000 more HDB households
Lower age criterion means more can apply for elder-friendly fittings
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 2 Aug 2014

A HOUSING Board programme to install elder-friendly fittings such as grab bars will now be available to 100,000 more households due to a lower age criterion, and will offer improvements to not just one, but two bathrooms.

The Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, introduced in 2012, seeks to help prevent elderly residents from falling at home.

Homeowners can choose from fittings such as slip-resistant treatment of floor tiles in one bathroom, and grab bars and ramps in the flat.

"Since its launch, HDB has received feedback from hospitals, beneficiaries and their caregivers, on how EASE could be further enhanced," said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post yesterday.

Previously, the scheme was available to Singapore citizen households with an elderly family member who is either at least 70 years old, or aged between 65 and 69 but requiring assistance for at least one of the specified activities of daily living, such as dressing and moving around.

Starting yesterday, it is now available to citizen households with an elderly member aged at least 65, or aged between 60 and 64 and requiring assistance.

In addition, for households with two bathrooms, slip-resistant floor tile treatment and grab bars will now be offered for the second bathroom as well. It was previously offered for only one bathroom.

The scheme offers subsidies of up to 95 per cent. Households which opt for the full scope of improvement works need pay only between $125 and $312.50, with those in larger flats paying more. The Government covers the rest of the $2,500 cost.

The expanded EASE programme is available in two ways. One is as part of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), an upgrading scheme for older flats.

The expanded EASE scheme will apply to future HIP projects polled from Aug 1, and ongoing projects that are not yet complete.

For all other types of flats, including those which have undergone HIP, flat owners can apply for the additional improvements either online or at HDB branch offices.

Households which have already applied directly but where installation has not yet been carried out will be eligible for the extra improvements. Where installation has been completed, homeowners can still apply for the extra items.

One of those who can now qualify is Mr Lee Yew Lee, 66, who is semi-retired. He said he would consider applying for EASE if the HIP is offered to his estate. "I don't mind, to prepare myself for old age," he said.

But he will not go out of his way to apply yet. "Maybe when I get closer to 70. But for now, I'm still young."

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