Inspiring collaboration between Higher education institutions and HoviClub

On a rainy afternoon in November 2019, we walked in the HorseCity in Singapore in the wellness trail. The weather was warm, so the rain did not bother us at all. It was a luxury for us to run away from the Finnish cold autumn weather to the warmness of Singapore. Before this afternoon walk, we already had a very warm welcome in Ngee Ann Polytechnic School of Health Sciences, which is situated in a huge campus area. Our partners had made us a very interesting and versatile visit. The programme included learning journeys from preventive and rehabilitative places to acute care hospitals. 

MANPIT-project

Why did we come so far to Singapore to see this all? Well, this was the week we had prepared already for some time.  HoviKoti in Finland had been our reliable partner for many years, so it was very easy and natural to ask them to join us in an international project together with Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore.

The project called “MANPIT, Metropolia and NP collaborate together”, which is funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education / Asia programme, target at establishing a strong collaboration between the institutions by the means of joint studies in innovations and exchanges & cultural exposure. The specific objectives of the project aim at promoting innovations in elderly care and increasing entrepreneurship skills of nursing students. In addition, the two-year collaboration also promotes sharing the best practices in teaching pedagogy, especially in geriatric nursing. The goal of the innovations is to solve existing healthcare challenges while also anticipating the needs of the future in an aging society. In the project, HoviClub acts as a living lab for these innovations.

Ageing societies in Finland and Singapore

Both Finland and Singapore are ageing societies. According to Statistics Finland, the percentage of people aged over 65 years in Finland in 2000 was 13,5 % and in 2018 the number had increased up to 19,2 %. In Singapore, the proportion of people over 65 years was 8,7 % in 2008 and 13,7 in 2018. It has been estimated, that by year 2035, 32 % of Singaporean are over 65 years.

Even though people are likely to age with better health and functional ability than the previous generations, the old generation will serve a challenge to the health care service system in these countries. This means that the fewer working-aged people need to support increased number of elderly residents. Therefore, this has an effect on the number of elderly care facilities, and the need for day care and other services for elderly is increasing. In Singapore, the number of senior activity centers had doubled from 2011 to 2018 (78 centers).

Sharing best practices

MANPIT-project organized a half-day seminar in HoviClub in November 2019 to share the best practices in elderly care. The pre-seminar included walking in the wellness trail and getting familiar with the different equipment provided by the Finnish companies to maintain the wellbeing and functional ability of the elderly or people with memory disorders.  The aim of HoviClub is to offer activities and programme to improve the well-being and quality of life of their customers.

The seminar started with the welcoming speech by the Ambassador of Finland to Singapore, HE Antti Vänskä. CEO of HoviKoti Mr Jussi Peltonen explained about the similarities and differences in elderly care in Finland and Singapore. Metropolia´s lecturers made a presentation about the elderly care and elderly care service system in Finland, and the main development areas in elderly care in Finnish society. Numerous lecturers and students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Lessons learned 

During the week, we learned that the health care system in Singapore and Finland is quite different. We learned a lot about the health care and elderly care, in addition to the care of disabled people in Singapore. We visited health care facilities, hospitals, day care centers for disabled people, and food court run by disabled people (Dignity Kitchen).  It was obvious, that the needs of people with memory disorders and disabilities were well taken care of in the health care service system. Technology and innovation activities were available both on university campus and in health care units. When compared to Finland, private services were used more often in care of elderly in Singapore.

The rain had already stopped, when we left HoviClub. In the warm evening in HorseCity, we felt ourselves to be very privileged to have this great opportunity and experience  of seeing and learning so much also about the Asian culture, family values and the meaning of voluntary work. Sharing best practices will continue in Finland, and we welcome our colleagues, our new friends to see our country. We hope to provide them at least the same level of hospitality that we experienced in Singapore.

Written by
Aija Ahokas, Hannele Hokkanen and Carita Kokkala
Senior lecturers at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences