Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mixed reactions in response to Bishan nursing home

SINGAPORE: There are mixed reactions from residents in response to the Health Ministry's plan to proceed with building a nursing home, the Lions Home for the Elders, in a Bishan housing estate.

Some residents had earlier expressed concerns that the home would block their view and cause traffic congestion.

MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Mr Wong Kan Seng said he and his grassroots leaders have worked with the Health Ministry to study how the concerns of residents can be mitigated.

The decision has been made to build the nursing home on a plot of land at Bishan Street 13, after an earlier dialogue was held with Bishan East residents on May 27.

Reactions to the announcement to proceed with the construction have been mixed.

N. Sethuranman, a Bishan resident who has stayed in the area for about 20 years, said: "We thought they would revert the decision, and go for a better place - closer to the MRT or something."

Ronnie Ho, another Bishan resident, echoed similar sentiments. He said: "We are already very congested in this area, so why are we now building a building, putting it right in the middle of three blocks of flats? We'll just increase the flow of traffic (in the area)."

Faraaz, who has stayed in Bishan for 15 years, said: "Residents have mentioned that the view is going to be obstructed and (the authorities) have responded appropriately. They've said they'll build green spaces and make it accessible to the public. It's not going to be just a hospice, I think that's a misconception many people have."

"Right now, what we should do is that since the thing has been decided, let's embrace it and make it better. We had a dialogue and they spoke to us, and they've given us good suggestions like how to make it benefit the residents around here," said Charles Yee.

In a written response to Channel NewsAsia, MP for the area Wong Kan Seng said he supports the plans to build the nursing home. He said with a fast ageing population, the demand for nursing homes is expected.

In response to alternative sites raised by residents, the Health Ministry said it has since worked with other planning agencies, such as the URA and HDB, to study these sites.

But in land scarce Singapore - the green field sites have already been designated for future development to meet critical needs, such as housing and education, and the shifting of the nursing home to other sites will in turn displace these uses.

To address some of the concerns raised by residents, MOH has agreed to cap the building at six storeys. It will also incorporate design features to screen off direct views of the wards and provide greenery to the rooftop and ground floors.

MOH said it will also ensure there are enough car parking facilities in the area. It also plans to keep residents updated on developments and continue to engage the residents about the actual design of the nursing home.

MOH has added that it intends to build more eldercare services in HDB housing estates in the next five years.

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