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Spacious. Modern. Luxurious.

Pick any one of those words to describe Acacia by Pacific Senior Living (Acacia) and you wouldn’t be wrong. 

Walking in, it felt like I was stepping into a regular Airbnb. Even its smallest accommodation (the Superior Room, 312 sq ft) is equipped with a smart TV, writing desk, and mini fridge. If you’re not a fan of the decor, you’re welcome to spruce up the room and make it feel like home. 

This would be nothing out of the norm… except for the fact that this was a senior living centre.

And I was here because my colleagues thought it would be real funny to send one of the youngest team members to live as a senior at this new centre for a few days, upon invitation.

As far as first impressions go, I’m impressed.

This is quite a far cry from the usual senior homes you’d find across the nation in neighbourhoods. Which is exactly what makes this relatively new senior living centre unique.

Instead of a communal space with multiple beds, Acacia prides itself on offering privacy to all its residents. Everyone gets a fully furnished room to themselves that comes with an ensuite bathroom. 

Out of the room, it has purpose-built facilities to ensure that seniors are able to enjoy a relaxed retirement while staying healthy. This includes a mini theatre and karaoke room, a gymnasium, and a jacuzzi among others.

These are all lovely, but I had to find out if this was really worth the starting price of RM8,500 per month to stay there.

Resort-styled living for seniors in Malaysia

Full disclosure: I am by no means a senior citizen. In fact, I’m at the age where my frontal lobe is just about to fully develop. 

So I might not be the most suitable person to evaluate the space and all that Acacia has to offer for its target market. But I have taken care of a relative with critical illness before and understand the needs of proper care.

It’s not exactly the same since Acacia isn’t actually for those in need of serious medical attention. It doesn’t have the necessary facilities and equipment to care for those with advanced medical conditions like stroke and severe dementia. 

As such, residents actually go through a prior evaluation by Acacia’s team of doctors and nurses before they’re accepted. The evaluation also helps to determine the tier of care required and the associated charges.

“This process will ensure that we only accept residents who are able to fully enjoy the services provided,” Emily Yap, Acacia’s sales manager, explained. 

It’s a fair reasoning, as part of the reason why prices start from RM8,500 is due to the resort-like amenities available. For example, someone who is paralysed might not be able to fully make use of the heated jacuzzi or play a round of billiards. 

That said, the centre factors in many other aspects that make it elderly-friendly. 

The whole place is fully wheelchair accessible and they also provide some wheelchairs on site, should residents need it. Handrails are fixed on almost every wall including the corridors, bathroom, and even the swimming pool. 

By the bedside and shower, you’ll find emergency call bell buttons to alert the nurses’ station at each wing of the centre. When pressed, it won’t stop ringing until a caregiver enters the resident’s room and disables it.

This essentially guarantees that Acacia’s staff will attend to the needs of residents 24/7.

Should they require immediate hospital-level medical attention, they’ll be transported to one of the nearest hospitals. This could be KPJ Klang Specialist Hospital, Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre, Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre, Columbia Asia Hospital, or HTAR Klang. All of which are within 10km away from Acacia. 

Speaking on this, Dr Ramnan Jeyasingam (CEO and Director of Health Services at Pacific Senior Living) shared, “That’s one of our pre-requisites when we’re opening up any new senior living centres. We factor in that medical emergencies will happen in this age group. That’s why we also have an AED kit on every floor.”

On a daily basis, a visiting doctor will come in and check everyone’s vital signs at least twice a day to ensure they’re all in good health.

A stable community for the elderly

During my 2D1N stay, I was accommodated in its Superior Room and was treated to five meals a day: breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner, and supper. The only downside was that we didn’t dine with the residents nor were we served the same kind of food.

But Emily told us that the meals cooked for the residents are customisable and based on their dietary preferences. None of the dishes contain pork, beef, or alcohol due to cultural sensitivities. 

Alternatively, there’s the in-house Silver Spoon Cafe serving a range of affordable local and western cuisine. Its menu includes dishes like chicken chop (RM15), Penang fruit rojak (RM10), and vegetarian fried rice (RM10). 

We didn’t get to try this as all meals were catered to us, but we were told that a good deal of non-residents frequent there during lunchtime. The cafe is currently open to the public, so you can try the food for yourselves too.

Sometimes, Acacia also hosts barbecue nights by the swimming pool. A chef would be grilling either chicken or lamb cutlets, while hired musical talents jazz things up.

I didn’t see any of the residents dancing the night away, but maybe they were just shy around us media guests. 

Another function we were able to attend alongside the residents was their morning aerobics and recreational activities session. Held every morning at Acacia’s Silver Club, caregivers will coach and assist the residents. They seemed really gentle and encouraging, helping the elderly move around and play.

This ensures that their muscles are kept strong and their mobility is maintained. But more than that, it offers them the opportunity to socialise with other residents and caregivers. 

Personally, I find this to be the most important aspect of a senior living centre. People tend to become depressed when they’re left alone for too long, which is usually the case for the elderly.

According to a report by The Pennsylvania State University, socialising improves the elderly’s mental health and cognitive function. This will slow down the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Is it actually worth the hefty price tag?

Currently, there are about 22 residents who have moved into Acacia.

It’s only been a few months since the assisted living centre first opened, but I could see that a small community has already grown. The elderly folks have made friends with each other and the staff members also seem to be quite tight-knit. 

Seeing that made me, as an outsider, feel like this was a good place to settle down upon retiring. I could definitely see myself staying here if my plans to move to the countryside fell through.

The starting price of RM8,500 per month is still pretty steep, though. With that in mind, I would argue that it’s an establishment that caters to the more well-off in society. The occupancy demographics here do attest to that as well. Acacia’s staff mentioned that a good chunk of residents had children working abroad. 

However, the price is also justified. As Dr Ramnan explained, much of the fees goes towards the manpower costs required for the daily care of residents. 

The CEO also disclosed that Pacific Senior Living is targeting to have two more centres in the Klang Valley. In the long run, they hope to have one in every major city across the country. 

Considering that Malaysia is seeing a sharp increase in our ageing population (11.1% are people aged 60 and above), it’s important to look into improving the current landscape of senior living centres.

Even if many probably won’t realistically be able to afford Acacia, the space serves as a good example of what newer establishments could aspire to offer.

  • Learn more about Acacia by Pacific Senior Living here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Acacia by Pacific Senior Living

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(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)