“Cloud Surfing – Warren Flick”

Still on my cloud surfing trip and riding on the wave created by Ronnie Bennett, “Time Goes By” blog roll.  Thanks again Ronnie.  This time I have landed on a really interesting blog by Warren Flick which you can find by clicking on this “Laterlivingblog“.

What first caught my eye was a post about a trip Warren made through the high plains.  You can find the story in the archive for April 09, 2015.  It has some great photos that show the huge expanse that is covered by the great plains area and the flatness and dryness of the landscape.  Warren’s writing makes the trip really come to life and probably saves me from following in his footsteps :-).  I’m sure my Texas friend John Tripplehorn would be interested to read his blog and particularly his comments about cowboys and cattle drives.

cloudsurfing Warren

Another post which I found even more interesting was about a retirement community in Florida called The Villages.  You can find it in the archive February 15, 2015.  It was particularly interesting to me because I have spent most of my working life building retirement housing and pioneered the idea of retirement villages in the UK.  I have been to Florida many times but not found this particular village.

The Villages complex that Warren describes, is home to 110,000 older people and covers an areas of 35 square miles.  His post describes it very well so I won’t repeat it here, but what it does show is that many older people in America have many more opportunities for living in retirement than we have in the UK.

When I started working in retirement housing, a typical sheltered housing scheme had between 30 and 40 flats.  Anything bigger than that was regarded, particularly by Social Services Departments, as something of a ghetto for older people.  It took us many years to edge the numbers up from 30 to 40 to 50, but it wasn’t until we built our first retirement village in 1998 at Berryhill in Stoke on Trent that we managed to build our first larger scheme which was 148 flats.  At the time we thought that this was enormous and there was only one other scheme of that size in the UK.  Whilst at the ExtraCare Charitable Trust we subsequently went on to build many more villages, the largest of which so far is at Lark Hill Village in Nottingham which is over 300 flats and bungalows.

In spite of their noted success, retirement villages as a concept has still not really taken off in the UK and certainly nobody has been adventurous enough to build retirement communities on the scale that are built in the USA.  With the desperate shortage of housing that exists in the UK, maybe someone sooner or later will take this bold step.

My thanks to Warren Flick for this insight into “The Villages in Florida” which you can find by clicking here .

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4 Responses to “Cloud Surfing – Warren Flick”

  1. Dear John a missive!
    Just recently I have had the opportunity to read some of the modules for a British NVQ level 3 in the UK health industry.
    What intriguied me was the breadth and depth of questions and knowledge that a trainee had to possess when achieving their personal qualification working within the UK Healthcare Industry of care/nursing and retirement homes.
    If one gently reflects on why one made the personal choices, to 1/ resided in a retirement village, write and consider ‘Power of attorney’ for financial, and health and welfare:2/ then to write a will of ones wishes for ones personal estate.
    In reflection one has covered most of the NVQ’S level questionaire proposed problems to that level of trained staff, which helps one understand what makes a retirement village tick.

    One attribute that is essential for the retiremen village and its residents and friends is to keep an open mind with respect to mobility, and mental attributes of all concerned, which will concern the
    active involvement of the management company is the age , and abilty profile, to ensure that both the management and the residents challenge actively and with a common goal to ensure all look forward to the future with aquestioning mind, and not submit to a ‘Elderly GHETTO’ mentality.

    • The original Blog by John based on Warren’s information in his ‘Blog’ deservers a more direct response, and comments.
      I live in a retirement village as envisaged by the Extracare Charitable Trust of Coventry, and enabled and designed at a time when John was the CEO.
      The concept of a mixed community of over 55’s, based upon rent/shared, leased and social housing, with no one of the cosmopolitian residents being in the majority, with respect to property ownership, and again these proportions the domicially care provision is 33.333% of the total population. This has to be based on an economic basis suficient that the domicillary care can be sustained, for the support required of all age groups over 55 years of age.
      My village appears well balanced, with its total of 254 appartments/flats and services provided such as -restruant, licenced bar, cafe, craft rooms- including a machined woodwork room, meeting rooms, main assemble/function hall, library, convenience shop, unisex hairdressers, communial IT suite connected to the net, a fully equipped gynasium ( with a resident manager to help-guide and advice on programmes of exercise to keep fit and how to recover with exercise from minor ailments, in some cases major medical/physical handicaps), a specialised meeting room with a kitchenette for residents pastimes, and typical alhzmiers meetings- with an expert locksmith’ (a person specialising in dementia and alhzmiers ailments.)
      There is a large foyer and reception area, manned by receptioist and volunteer staff/villagers.
      The estate is within grounds that provide ample parking, quiet garden areas, and a green house with a designated raised bed area for all resident through the gardening group can adopt on an individual basis, for cultivation, of flowers and or vegatables.
      The layout of the buildings has been thouhtfully put together/ designed. The main complex is a 4 rise building and within it open galleria;s and a central winter garden which allow freash air to enter the complex, and give and provide space for movement. Spuring off the gallerias, wintergarden, are the ‘streets’ to the majority of residences these roads/ allyways are wide sufficient to permit two large buggies=scooters to pass simultaneously, and turn around with one manouvre Externally to each appartment is a power point to allow the owner to charge up thier sooters=buggies.
      In the estate are a number of appartments free standing based upon a bungalow type construction (15 in all- the total number of appartments flats is actually 254- some 350 persons?residents?).
      With respect to economics the retirement village in which i have resided for some 8 years is self economically sustaining so I believe.
      A larger complex of greater than 1000 residents in total say 760 appartments would challenge the local community, it is for a retirement village to be absorbed, and not to be isolated from it.,
      The concept of importance for the vibrancy of a retirement village, is for each resident and the management to support and encourage active involvement within the village by allowing residents to challenge management, and encourage all residents to volunteer in some or one activities of their choice, and so become aware of their fellow villagers.
      One important factor is to have a strong memebership of ‘Friends of the village’ who by paying a modest fee may enjoy retirment village life.
      One has to remember and consider ones neighbours and friends who have died, not a mausoleum of prominent position, but a discreet quiet corner, and place to remember.
      A Retirement village that I live in is for living: however one respects the passing of friends and neighnbours, which when one is over 55 years of age is a fact of life.
      One alleged fact is that in the eight years of the village the total residents moving out for reasons other than welfar or health is around 20 persons from 350.
      Some of the more elderly residents who have had mental or physical problems is relatively small, as the village support is based on domicillary care! However with a ‘Locksmith’ this prognosis may be such that care for sufferes of dementia and alhzmiers may reduce the need to be rehoused in a specialist unit of care.

  2. Thinking about the blog by Warren Flick, and comments added on the Smiles and Grumbles blog by John Graham.
    Taking the American dream and 110K elderly citizen’s in a 35 square mile of area within the State of Florida, roughly in my UK domain of knowledge represents the cathedral town centre (not the borough council area) of Chelmsford in Essex UK. I am noting that under Warren’s blog the total population is 110,000 persons, all in a state of retirement, or of very mature years.
    In part of the blog by Warren it is stated that Florida is of a warmer climate, and all the modern living in America is that the younger generation have to ‘flit’ home to seek work and security in order to live an adult life, so I read it that while families are important the elderly retired generations are migrating to the warmer climate and making friends and neighbours with likeminded people, in an environment of their personal choice, while their family and offspring make the pilgrimage to them (The Oldies, who act as an anchor, both metaphorically and in fact to the modern American family unit).
    What the blog has not clarified is Barack Obama’s ‘Medicare Act, and the ability to offer economies of scale. This has also raised my curiosity as to work, and how are the people required to support this elderly clientele, who are I assume on a fixed income, or at least a limited income. I can see the elderly moving from the industrial centres of excellence which have fallen on hard economic times, but one still needs a cosmopolitan society, which includes age, abilities, educational, and sex profiles to provide a thriving and throbbing with life community?
    Being of restricted land mass the Brits and other Europeans in general have had to face these problems, and to some extent come to terms with redevelopment of older industrial/domiciliary conurbations, and reinvest within the same geographically areas. I for one were to look at the European Union of Nations, one has to consider as the USA-America climate: However in addition language (French/german/Swedish/Spanish/Italian/dutch/Flemish/Danish/norwegian/Finish/Polish/Slav}, of which one has to consider is the actually the official language of the Union. Enough if one considers the winter migration of the Northern European citizen’s to the warmer climates, one has to consider the Canaries Isles, Madeira and the Southern Spanish countryside and Southern Portugal. Here one has the Florida Villages, either in Florida and the Caribbean. Money can be a milestone: However to support a mixed elderly [population one must provide the infrastructure, such as health and welfare requirements. In America USA Florida you have the State provisions with access to Congress if the problem becomes fraught with political and actual difficulties of sustaining such a society. Within the European Union, we may have a loosely bound agreement and economic support, but the actual problems are or could be creed, colour and language, which within one of the States of the European Union, these give the local population unacceptable risks, which they may not wish to adopt.
    It does not mean we Europeans cannot admire and look on the American Dream for the elderly, and try to resolve the problems within Europe> At the present we are having to deal with the large migration of human tide from the Middle East and Asia Minor, and as Brits we have our own relationships with our commonwealth. All these problems bring economic consequences which have to be solved in a practical but humane manner.

  3. Phill Hulme says:

    John, I visited “The Villages” on the fact finding trip that ECT funded with Richard Tuckey. Of the 8 different developments we saw in Florida in that week “The Villages” stood out the most. My most vivid memories of the sheer scale where:

    The Sales Centre was a 4 storey building which was almost the same size as the Beacon Park Village we were developing in Lichfield.

    It had (at that time) 3 different 18 hole Golf Courses.

    The residents had customised electric golf carts to resemble mini Rolls Royces which they used to travel around the whole complex.

    It had it’s own Radio & TV stations.

    They were starting to work on specific Retirement Developments for single interests such as Tennis, Equine (for people to keep riding, as opposed to retired horses!)’ and others.

    The staff onsite were very welcoming to Richard and myself and shared a lot of commercial information. They were fascinated by the fact we were from a charity and pledged to our customers that irrespective of their finances they could live in an ECT village. This was not the case in the developments we visited, it was clear that the Stateside clients were funding this from both house equity and investments.

    The insight was invaluable and I used many of the American marketing techniques when selling ECT property. The true learning from my visit was the level of customer service expected and delivered is exceptional. I know that was a cornerstone of ECT marketing and I was fortunate to work with some incredible Sales Staff who accomplished this (Frances, Julie, Rebecca, Lincoln, Paul, Natalie, Tracey & Karen to name a few).

    To this day I am amazed other UK companies have not replicated the Village concept to any meaningful scale. Whether private or non profit, this concept works, can be delivered without grant funding and most importantly offers a real improvement in lifestyle for residents.

    Thanks again for sending me.


    P.S At every new Retirement Development Sales Centre we visited, the prime parking spot was reserved for the “Sales Person Of The Month”………Not sure what response that would have elicited from you if I had suggested the same!

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