Woodlands residents worry elder-care centres in estate may mean more deaths

Residents of two Woodlands HDB blocks are worried that building an elder-care centre at their void decks may mean more deaths in the area.

Their concern comes on the heels of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) plans to build an elder-care centre at the void decks of Blocks 860 and 861 at Woodlands Street 83.

The residents also said the area was already overcrowded with other public facilities and that increased traffic was a concern.

According to The Straits Times, MOH has decided to review the plans, with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong assuring netizens that the ministry will always take into account the views of all parties and find the best solution.

However, he cautioned that the ministry may not be able to satisfy everyone and that "some sensible compromises may have to be made".

Mr Gan also told netizens that the centre was necessary to provide the elderly with a nearby place to stay active and engaged.

Some suggestions which Mr Gan raised include building facilities for the aged on vacant land next to transport hubs. He also said that Singapore may need more facilities within the community given the ageing population.

Plans for the elder-care centre were first made known to residents when charity Sree Narayana Mission sent them notices of the upcoming construction. The 570 sq m centre was to be run by Sree Narayana Mission.

However, upset residents from Blk 861 later sent a petition to Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament Ellen Lee voicing their opposition to the plans.

They gave eight reasons for opposing the plan, one of which was that there are not many elderly people living in the two blocks, as well as the reasons given above.

Some residents who spoke to The Straits Times said they approved of building an elder-care centre, but were upset that they had not been consulted on their views and opinions.

MP Ellen Lee told the English daily that the needs of the greater majority had to be considered and that approval need not be sought from residents on building the centre.

However, she told The New Paper that her conflict was on how to balance the needs of the elderly and their caregivers with the concerns of residents who feel that their space has been violated.

"But honestly, my heart is with the elderly and their caregivers," she said.