HDB slammed for its “rigid” regulation on renovation

Facebook user, Yap Ching Wi took to her Facebook on Monday (1 July) to criticise the Housing & Development Board (HDB) after she heard that an elderly wheelchair-bound lady is not able to reach the kitchen tap at her place to even boil water to drink.

To make it worse, Ms Yap said that the senior “can only drink water from containers that home care helpers fill up on Tuesdays and Thursdays”, and will have to buy hot water from the coffee shop below her HDB studio if she ever wants it.

But the thing that angers Ms Yap the most is HDB’s rigid regulations that robs the elderly woman’s independence as she is now suffering while the state is wasting money unnecessarily on home care.

“She cannot afford the $8000 needed for contractor to lower her kitchen sink height, and then restore when she gives back the elderly studio to HDB. It’s an elderly flat! There are only two ways to return the flat: death or move to nursing home,” Ms Yap wrote.

She also pointed out that it’s ridiculous that HDB flats are not wheelchair-friendly, and that a regulation that can be easily adjusted is now forcing an elderly woman to be dependent on others.

“Can you imagine drinking water that is 5 days old and not be able to make a cup of coffee or tea at will? Her home become cruel to her, all because of a regulation!” she wrote.

She continued, “How many frail elderly are suffering alone? Why must we carelessly make life even harder for them? And our carelessness cause them the label of pushing up care costs.”

Ms Yap emphasised that Singapore deemed itself as a smart nation and flaunt its Pioneer Generation packages, yet the poor and old seniors are left to suffer unnecessarily on their own with no voice for themselves.

As such, she calls for policy and structural changes which she urged must be coordinated among different agencies.

“If restoring the dignity and independence of elderly poor is not enough of a reason, then think about money, that we can reduce long term care cost. Come on, policy makers and parliament, surely we can do better, and we must!” Ms Yap noted.

A few hours after her post was up, Ms Yap posted an update stating that some of her friends in eldercare and other individuals have reached out to her with practical ideas to help the elderly woman. She then added that she has “conveyed the suggestions and resources to my friends who are directly helping this elderly lady”.

She also apologised if her initial post angered any individuals, and noted that many social workers are doing their “best to advocate so all the more policy makers must listen to social workers and make the change.”

Ms Yap mentioned that the reason why she wrote this post was to highlight the “rigid regulations and inflexible attitude creates so much unnecessary suffering to people who are already suffering so much.”

In the comment section of her post which received over 60 responses, many netizens provided her with different suggestions that would allow the elderly lady to reach the kitchen tap, without actually renovating. Some of the recommendations include purchasing an instant kettle, fixing the hose, installing a water dispenser and more.

A bunch of them also penned down their dissatisfaction towards policy makers and HDB for not being able to deal with this issue. They also said that the ministry “lack compassion and concern” and is “heartless”.