New On The Block: Hovi Care and Hua Hee

Welcome to Irisada‘s blog. We focus on solutions and awareness for families living with differently-abled loved ones so they can live life to the fullest.

In our previous New On The Block feature, we shared two promising new initiatives aimed at serving the deaf and hard of hearing community. Today, we’re going to feature two new ideas and solutions in the eldercare sector! The first, Hovi Care, is a senior activity centre offering unique and personalised care for their clients. Hovi Care’s concept originated in Finland, and they have just begun operations in Singapore this year. The second, Hua Hee, is a card game specially designed to engage seniors, fight dementia, and draw families together.

Hovi Care: Flexibility and Care

Photo Credit: Hovi Care

We spoke to Andrew, the Managing Director at Hovi Care, about their innovative approach to eldercare. The centre doesn’t call itself a nursing home – rather, it promotes the holistic wellbeing of the client, aiming to meet social, emotional and physical needs. They model their centre on a social club setting, aiming to create the environment of a ‘living room’ where seniors can come to relax, meet friends, and have fun.

Rather whimsically, Andrew compared Hovi Care’s model of care to that of a hair salon. Clients can drop in anytime by making an appointment, and most of them come in once or twice a week. The centre offers a myriad of activities – karaoke, mahjong, walks and even equine therapy in the beautiful setting of Horsecity! This maximises the independence and choice of the client. In this way, Hovi Care offers as much flexibility as one might want, and as much care as one might need.

Engaging and Empowering Clients

Zooming in, one of the clients’ favourite activities are the Wellness Walks. Being located in Horsecity, Hovi Care is surrounded by greenery, with open spaces to walk around and explore. On certain days, clients even get to watch the horses exercising in the field beside the centre! Andrew shared that these walks, like all the activities, are geared towards engaging their clients both mentally and physically. The care workers always try to ask as many questions as possible – what do you see, what do you hear, what do you like? Whenever the opportunity arises, seniors are invited to share their own stories and memories from their younger days. Reminiscing reminds them of happy times in the past, and encourages bonding between the storyteller and the listener.

Photo Credit: Wheellator

What’s more, special mobility equipment is used to help seniors retain mobility as long as possible. For instance, the wheellator, a Finnish invention combining a wheelchair and a rollator, allows clients to walk and exercise their leg muscles for as long as possible, while offering the option to convert into a wheelchair if a rest is needed.

Battling Loneliness

Ultimately, Hovi Care hopes to alleviate loneliness by offering a way to get out of the house, enjoy activities and entertainment, and spend time with others. They hope that the eldercare sector will see increasing innovation in engaging and empowering seniors, helping them to live full and happy lives. Andrew emphasised that we need to open up more options for seniors to age well: institutionalisation should not be the only choice. This is exactly why Hovi Care seeks to go beyond offering nursing and medical care, by providing intellectual and social stimulation to address the full spectrum of an individual’s needs.

If you are interested in Hovi Care’s services, please see http://www.hovicare.com/ for more information.

Play Hua Hee: Engaging Seniors

Christal from Hua Hee created the card game in the hopes of connecting with her own grandparents. This is a challenge many local youth may have in common: not knowing how to approach and engage their elderly loved ones, whether this is due to language barriers, or lack of shared experiences. Playing games can be a form of early intervention against dementia, by creating social interaction and engaging cognitive functions. What’s more, games provide a simple platform for grandparents and grandchildren to have fun together, removing the awkwardness of starting a conversation.

Happiness Through Play

‘Hua Hee’ means ‘Happy’ in Hokkien, and that is exactly the aim of the game! It started off as a simple matching game, similar to the popular game ‘Snap!’. The cards show familiar local heritage items, such as satay, ketupat and gasing. This allows seniors to relate to the game in a way that cannot be achieved with conventional games. Further, the matching process provides an easy, fun way to exercise mental muscles, staving off dementia and improving memory.

The games have now been developed into many spinoffs, and can now be used in memory matching, snap, charades, pictionary, sketching and colouring, and puzzles, with even more to come!

Photo Credit: Play Hua Hee

It Takes A Village…

Sharing from her personal experience, Christal explained that one of her inspirations in creating the game was in hoping to stave off the approach of dementia for her grandmother. By playing games and spending time with her, she believes that their family managed to manage and delay the onset of dementia.

Thus, it is crucial that the whole family rallies around and plays a role in supporting seniors as they age. We should be on the lookout for early warning signs of dementia, such as confusion about the date and time, or forgetfulness over recently learned information. After all, they say it takes a village to raise a child. Perhaps the same goes for caring for our elderly loved ones!

To find out more about Hua Hee, read up about their approach, or buy their card games, go to https://playhuahee.com/.


 We hope finding out about these two new eldercare solutions was useful for you! If you have suggestions for our next New On The Block feature, please feel free to write in.

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Linette Chan

Linette is a university student interested in social issues and the vision of inclusivity. She writes for Irisada's blog and loves learning from the community.

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