Why Getting Older is About Longevity, not Frailty: Bernie Poh

By celebrating agelessness, the CEO of Allium Healthcare says we can help deconstruct ageism in our society.

Why Getting Older is About Longevity, not Frailty: Bernie Poh

By integrating healthcare and hospitality, Bernie Poh, CEO of Allium Healthcare, says ageing can become a more meaningful and rewarding experience.

“We want to consider ageing beyond the perspectives of disability or frailty, and focus on longevity. Age expectancy and affluence have increased among people aged 55 and above, along with access to technology and services, getting older no longer means we have to drastically change our lifestyles.”

Poh helms Allium Care Suites, which is described as “Singapore’s purpose-built premium residential care home”. It is situated along Venus Drive and within the vicinity of Windsor Nature Park.

“Households”, which accommodate up to 10 residents each, are equipped with shared spaces such as living and dining areas. Each mini community is served by a dedicated medical team. This turned out to be a fortuitous move; when Covid-19 struck last year, it made minimising social interaction easier.

That’s not all. The luxury nursing home facility even snagged an Outstanding Property Award London recently. Impressive aesthetic aside, winners are anonymously peer-reviewed and chosen for their innovation, social impact and sustainability.

Allium Healthcare, a subsidiary of GK Goh Holdings Limited, developed the 130-bed property at a cost of $50 million. Allium Care Suites kick-started the aged care operator’s strategy to launch integrated care services and nursing homes in districts across Singapore and the region.

“Ageism is a bias deeply rooted in our society; it’s something we hope to deconstruct by celebrating the concept of agelessness. Unlike the generations before, we increasingly veer towards personal space and personal growth, partly because we are better educated and digitally savvier,” says Poh, who turned 50 recently.

Does he fear ageing? “Yes and no,” he admits good-naturedly. “Yes, because I’m uncertain if I can enjoy the same physical and mental health at, say, 80, compared to 60. No, because through proper exercise, diet and lifestyle choices, a lot can be done to address ageing-related issues.”

Poh, who’s spent more than 20 years in both private and public healthcare, describes his decision to pursue a career in healthcare as “a risk I had to take”. Instead of fearing what he could lose, he focused on what he could gain: “Status quo is never the end goal, especially in my profession. I remember asking myself, how do I want to come out of this experience? Will I become stronger or kinder? If the outcome is worthwhile, I’ll feel accomplished.”

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