Two HDB rental blocks (block 29 and 31) in Toa Payoh Lorong 5 will be demolished to give way for urban development. A total of 400 households will need to move and resettle in other rental blocks in Toa Payoh, Bidadari, Bishan, Buangkok, Hougang and various rental flats in Singapore by February 2023. This resettlement for many of the resident seniors is a life-changing event that destabilises their existing relationships and sources of support built over the years, and they will need to build new relationships and adjust to new sources of support in their new location.
Seeing the anxieties and challenges faced by the seniors, a team from SUSS Gerontology Student and Alumni Community (SGSAC) started a project early this year to support these vulnerable seniors towards meaningful ageing. The team consists of 13 members from SGSAC along with Associate Professor Carol Ma, SUSS Head of Gerontology programme.
The team will provide longitudinal support for these vulnerable seniors throughout their resettlement process for a period of approximately 12 months. They will be the core befriending team that aims to understand the senior’s needs and works closely with government agencies, grassroots and community partners to support and fulfill these needs.
With the assistance of Housing & Development Board (HDB), Toa Payoh East (TPE) Grassroots Advisor and Leaders, Thye Hua Kwan Senior Activity Centre (SAC), Active Ageing Centre (AAC), community volunteers (Adventists Home for the Elders, Micron CSR team, Project Care team, APEX Lodge, CHIJ Photography club) and generous sponsors, the team started supporting these vulnerable seniors through the key resettlement processes since March 2022. On 11 September 2022, together with TPE grassroots, they organised a farewell party for 60 seniors at TPE Zone 6 Resident Committee Centre at the void deck of Block 261A Toa Payoh East.
Mr Saktiandi Supaat, advisor of Toa Payoh East and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, giving his speech to the seniors.
At the farewell party, Associate Professor Carol Ma, SUSS Head of Gerontology programme, opened with a welcome speech followed by Mr Saktiandi Supaat, advisor of Toa Payoh East and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. At the party, Mr Saktiandi interacted and invited the seniors to reach out to him during the Meet the People’s Session, his grassroots and the SGSAC team should they need support in their moving. He was delighted that majority of the seniors will continue to live in TPE where he can continue to serve them as their MP and thank HDB for the efforts in supporting the seniors in their home selection process.
The party included sing-along sessions, decorating memory albums games, and lucky draw for the seniors. Photo albums together with physical pictures of the iconic landscape of Blocks 29 and 31, portraits of seniors, and pictures of the befriending event were provided to create their memory albums, which serve to bring back fond memories for the seniors when they move to the new location.
Seniors showing off their memory albums they created.
Mr Saktiandi and Associate Prof Ma giving away lucky draw prizes.
The event ended with a group photo-taking and volunteers distributing bento sets and mooncakes to the seniors.
Farewell Party group photo with seniors and community partners.
Networking lunch with guests, community partners, sponsors and volunteers
There are approximately 50,000 households living in public rental flats in Singapore. SGSAC is heartened to contribute in supporting the vulnerable seniors of Blocks 29 and 31 in Toa Payoh Lorong 5, and hope that their feedback on potential improvements can help smoothen the resettlement process at relevant government agencies and create a resettlement Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for future projects.