First Ibasho project in Singapore launches at Health District @ Queenstown

At the new FaithActs x Ibasho Margaret Drive Centre, older persons are empowered to play a leading role in community change

As part of its overall efforts to introduce effective, scalable and sustainable interventions to meet the evolving needs of Singapore’s ageing population, Health District @ Queenstown is introducing an innovative Ibasho project – the first in Singapore – which aims to empower older persons to lead meaningful activities as well as build resilient and inclusive communities.

A joint effort by social service agency FaithActs and global non-profit organisation Ibasho, and supported by Health District @ Queenstown, this partnership seeks to infuse Ibasho's eight principles - namely elder wisdom, normalcy, de-marginalisation, community ownership, multi-generational, culturally appropriate, resilience and embracing imperfection - into FaithActs' new Active Ageing Centre in Margaret Drive.

The new centre was launched by Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of National Development, on 30 March 2024.

Health District @ Queenstown is a multi-stakeholder collaboration led by NUS, National University Health System and Housing & Development Board, working closely with multiple partners from the public, private and people sectors. In October 2021, Queenstown was designated as the pilot site for the development of a Health District, intended as a testing ground to trial integrated solutions that enhance the well-being of residents throughout their various life stages.

Older residents taking the lead

Singapore, as one of the world’s fastest ageing populations, grapples with the problems of ageism and increasing loneliness among older persons. Studies have shown that loneliness has detrimental effects on their physical and mental health, contributes to chronic conditions and reduces the overall quality of life.

The collaboration between FaithActs and Ibasho represents a proactive effort to create a mindset change in society where older persons are valued for their potential to contribute to the community and seen as persons with wisdom and experience. The new centre hopes to foster a vibrant, inclusive community where older persons feel supported and have a sense of purpose and belonging.

While Ibasho was previously implemented in Japan, Philippines and Nepal, this marks its inaugural introduction in Singapore. “This pilot Ibasho project at Queenstown will enable us to understand the facilitating factors behind implementing community-led interactions in Singapore as well as the different adaptations required. We aim to evaluate the project’s impact on the participants' level of social capital, social network and sense of loneliness,” said Associate Professor Emi Kiyota, Deputy Executive Director, NUS Centre for Population Health. Assoc Prof Kiyota is also the founder and Director of Ibasho.

The concept of Ibasho was introduced to the Queenstown community in May 2022 through a four-part workshop. The workshop helped the residents identify key community assets within their neighbourhood, and assisted them in envisioning and actualising how they would like to live their lives with meaning and purpose. A 24-member multi-generational core committee was also formed to implement the Ibasho project.

The core committee will progressively introduce programmes co-created with other residents. For a start, regular digital clinics and upcycling craft workshops will be organised for residents of all ages to mingle and acquire new skills. Participants are encouraged to support each other to kickstart ground-up activities which could evolve through informal discussions over time.

“The Health District aims to bring partners from across society like FaithActs and Ibasho together to co-design initiatives with the community which are scalable and sustainable that enables the longevity dividend,” said Professor John Eu-Li Wong, Executive Director, NUS Centre for Population Health and NUHS Senior Advisor, “We believe that the FaithActs x Ibasho Margaret Drive Centre is just the beginning of many collaborations that the Health District hopes to support in Queenstown.”

Read the press release here.