In an era where longevity is celebrated, elder care is vital in ensuring that our seniors can age gracefully, comfortably, and with dignity. In Singapore, the demand for comprehensive care and support for seniors is expected to continue rising as the greying population grows, where today, one in every six people is aged over 65 years. By 2030, it would be almost one in four Singaporeans over 65.
Helping to alleviate the public healthcare crunch in Singapore are independent family-run companies like Hovi Care Group, which offers a portfolio of elderly care services such as assisted living all year round, tailored in-home care, including a daycare facility called Hovi Club. Calling it a club helps eliminate the stigma around elderly care. These places benefit older adults who seek an active, social lifestyle with tailored support. Seniors receive customised services and activities fostering independence and self-reliance, empowering them to make autonomous decisions.
Founded in Finland 34 years ago, Hovi (which means royal court) is a Finnish concept of treating our seniors like royalty, precious individuals that we should respect and do our best to serve. It believes in enhancing the quality of life for older adults, helping them remain active, engaged, and socially connected in their communities. To promote this, Hovi Club offers various activities, services and support for seniors based on three key pillars: Social, physical and mental wellness. These aspects are derived from the Finger Method based on the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study (Finger), which lists five core concepts of holistic care that are proven to delay cognitive impairment in older people.
Hovi Club’s international branches can be found in Bali and Singapore. Hovi Club Ulu Pandan, which opened in 2018, is owned and operated by the Finnish founders, while Hovi Club Orchard is a franchise outlet managed by siblings Jared and Beatrice Lim, which opened in March 2023.
Centrally located next to Orchard Boulevard MRT Station and surrounded by dozens of specialist clinics, Hovi Club Orchard enjoys being the only elder care centre in Camden Medical. A calming and spacious oasis that overlooks the surrounding greenery and nearby Botanic Gardens, the club sees up to 20 clients daily, grouped based on varying cognitive abilities and areas of interest. Most clients are in their late 70s to 90s and visit an average of three times a week.
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A typical day would start with physical exercises followed by tabletop activities to keep the brain agile. After that, lunch, some music appreciation, and free and easy time with plenty of social interaction.
Here, families and caregivers can enjoy a little respite in the cosy lounge area while the seniors can partake in some social interaction with their peers and engaging activities facilitated by a team of care executives.
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Jared shares that the take-up rate has been healthy and growing gradually. Apprehensive clients initially have progressed from weekly visits to thrice weekly visits, while several come daily. “We encourage our clients to come as often as they can, and consistently, because it takes them some time to settle down, especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. They get frustrated easily because they are disorientated, so it’s better to have frequency and a consistent schedule to help them recognise who you are and the space as a safe space,” adds Jared, 28, the club’s director.
Part of what differentiates Hovi Club from other brands is its adoption of digital technologies to elevate its services. “Our digital applications help us and our carers provide more specific care for our clients. For example, we can conduct brain sequencing or rationalising games via Hovi Online, set up during Covid-19, to reach home-based clients. We also onboard new care executives and offer refresher courses to our staff via Hovi Academy, a portal for e-learning and development,” he continues.
“All these tools are ultimately designed to enrich our clients’ lives. Having them enjoy our services, to see their happy faces, and families appreciating the kind of care we give gives me affirmation and motivates us to keep going,” says managing director Beatrice, 33.
Here, the siblings tell Options why they chose to franchise Hovi Care and how the adoption of AI has greatly improved their level of care.
What were you both doing before switching careers?
Jared: I was in the public health sector working alongside healthcare professionals to create, analyse and enhance clinical policies for one of the leading public hospitals in Singapore. That was a very interesting period that allowed me to understand the whole healthcare industry ecosystem and running of a hospital. At Hovi Club Orchard, I handle marketing and administration, while Beatrice is more client-facing and operational.
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Beatrice: I was an educator and former principal of a leading preschool, partnering families and nurturing young minds, for more than 10 years. I feel my background in early childhood was helpful in setting up systems and processes as well as developing the curriculum. Working with families and handling customer service has helped me be a better facilitator in my work here.
What was your motivation to go into elder care?
Jared: It was mostly personal. Watching my late grandfather go through dementia was hard. At that time, it was not so widely discussed, so no one knew what to do. Seeing how he wasn’t able to enjoy his later years was not easy. For me, this was something I felt I needed to do — to give back, to honour his memory, and thank my grandparents for taking care of us.
Beatrice: Collectively as a family, we decided to venture into this together because it is very close to our hearts. We want to provide both our living grandmothers, who are 85 and 94, a safe and comforting environment where they are able to feel nurtured and loved. There’s always this saying that being old is like going through a second childhood. By offering a safe space, we hope to deter these negative feelings of loneliness and neglect.
Why did you choose to franchise Hovi Club?
Beatrice: We chose to franchise this brand over others because it is led by a pair of siblings, just like us. Their slogan ‘from a family to a family’ really resonates with us because we are also a family. We always say that Hovi Club Orchard is also from a family to a family to a family.
Jared: Through our interactions with them, we felt that we were aligned with their vision and business objectives. We also appreciate the way they design their programmes, which are all backed by evidence-based research, to encourage seniors to be independent and self-reliant.
Can you talk about the digital tools that Hovi Club has adopted?
Jared: Technology is a very big part of our end-to-end care. All members are registered to an integrated app called Nurse Buddy, where our care execs key in daily activities and milestones. By doing this, we are able to track their progress and assess if there’s any deterioration. This way, we will know how to readjust their care plan to meet the goals that they require or the areas that need more attention.
We also use Gillie AI, a cloud service that analyses medical and welfare data to turn it into actionable insight and personalised care. What it does is it monitors the condition of customers and helps care providers anticipate changes in the customer’s condition, and uses them to predict upcoming deviations.
We also have another innovation called Emfit, a sleep tracker which can be paired with Gillie AI. Intended for people with epilepsy, it also has been very useful in tracking sleep patterns in dementia patients who often suffer “sundown syndrome” – which is the inability to regulate day and night sleep. By tracking this, it can tell us the quality of sleep the client is getting, and the probable mood they are in when they come to us. By knowing this, we can quickly adjust their schedules.
How has the feedback been so far?
Beatrice: It has been positive, our clients really like coming here because they have all gradually increased their sessions. The real proof in the pudding is hearing glowing reviews from their children. They report to us that their parents are happier, chattier and a lot more engaged at home. The clients themselves give us hugs, thank us and tell us how much they like it here. That kind of assurance is what keeps us going.
For us, it’s always important to put ourselves in the shoes of the client. Sometimes, their erratic or withdrawn behaviour is a result of feeling insecure, but they don’t always know how to express it. Once we make a breakthrough, the family really sees the difference and appreciates it. It’s very important that we work together with them to overcome any challenges.
What is it like working with your sibling?
Beatrice: This is our first venture together, so of course there is worry we won’t have similar working styles but we try to find a middle ground and see things from each other’s perspective. It has been positive so far. We are able to complement each other and make things work. Also, being siblings, there is a level of trust and assurance that we have each other’s back.
Jared: We don’t always see eye to eye, but we are aligned in our business goals and attitude, in that we both want to make a difference in someone’s life, whether big or small. The basis of everything we do here is to bring joy and improve their wellness, and that has been our goal from the very start.
Where do you see yourselves in the next few years?
Beatrice: We’re definitely in this for the long run. It cannot be touch-and-go in this line of work because we are dealing with people’s lives. The learning curve is very steep but we remain very committed.
Jared: For us, as long as we feel that we are able to contribute and positively impact our clients, we are here for it. For now, we’re looking at this as a long-term venture. We are working alongside our Finnish headquarters to strengthen our brand presence here. If all goes well, we want to reach out to more clients by expanding across the island. But for now, where we are located in Orchard is a very good starting point as it allows plenty of visibility and awareness.
Hovi Club Orchard
One Orchard Boulevard
Camden Medical, #05-06 to 08
Tel: +65 8700 6789