Community Retirement Villages – Later Lifestyle Opportunities

The key issue with retirement villages is that they should offer people a range of new opportunities in later life.    So many of the alternative retirement housing models are perceived by older people as a last resort option.    Residential care homes are the last place anybody wants to go to, no matter how good they might be in terms of the care they offer.    Sadly, many of them are rightly renowned for offering no real care at all.  The public sector sheltered housing model and its private alternative of retirement housing is focused on “safety and security” but generally offers no significant support for health and care requirements.    It is essential that Community Retirement Villages significantly transcend these other models.

In a retirement village you are living independently in your own home, whether you rent it, are a part share-owner or own it outright.    The important thing is that you can live the life you want and can join in as much or a little as you like.    In this environment, it is hard to be lonely because so many people around you are in the same situation themselves.    The host of activities are moulded around the skills and interests of the residents and you are free to take part in an active community life.

Volunteering is a central part of the retirement village culture which promotes an ethos of neighbourliness and helping each other.    In turn that means that residents are at the forefront of the reception and manage many of the facilities such as the coffee bar, the library, the craft room and many of the activities.    They also support staff in running the shop, the fitness suite, the well-being programme, the catering and the dementia support.    Many of these examples are more fully described in my earlier blogs which you can find by clicking on “Retirement Housing” in the TOPICS list.

Another essential feature of retirement villages has to be a focus on “well-being”.   This is the reverse side of the”safety and security” model of retirement housing.    It offers people the encouragement to look after their own health by giving them the support of a well-being nurse to monitor their own health and the opportunity of a fitness suite to stay fit or to provide rehabilitation after a period of ill health.

Finally, as you age in the community, if your frailty increases, you are able to access additional support with housekeepingand care.     You will also be provided with professional support to ensure that you are able to access the full range of welfare benefits which are often underclaimed because of their complexity.

Establishing this culture of an active lifestyle, volunteering and promotion of well-being is fundamental to differentiating the Retirement Village from the previous models.   Without these elements the village is just a large sheltered housing scheme.    The culture needs to be primed and encouraged by a skilled team of enabling staff.    I will expand on this in my next post on this subject.

 

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7 Responses to Community Retirement Villages – Later Lifestyle Opportunities

  1. Alex Robinson says:

    Everything you say about the retirement “village” concept is true (if realised in practice) and represents an excellent opportunity for those who choose to live there. But as I said in my response to your earlier blog, it will always be the solution for the minority. For the majority I think the preferred option will be living in their own home (or with close family.)

    I think our focus should be on enabling this to happen, possibly using a funding model similar to that which you propose for villages.

    • david w freeman says:

      AH!

    • john graham says:

      It is a good point you make Alex and I don’t disagree. All the reasearch confirms that most people wish to stay in their own home,
      The problem is that the evidence also suggests that most will end up lonely, infirm and unsupported by their family or the State. I don’t have a complete answer but hopefully Retirement Villages can reach out into the community and help many more older people.

  2. david w freeman says:

    Retirement village
    Interesting point of view Alex: While in the suggested minority I wish to disagree with you, but with respect.
    My experience like you are I suspect are based on my past life, both as a working person, and as a homely/family individual.
    I have had to consider in my younger life with my wife a joint life based on the UK Maritime industry, and for this reason, my seagoing experience we required a base: However with a young family and the wish to establish a career ashore with the family required my wife and I to consider many moves physically and geographically around various towns within the UK, some times more often than not remote from family, and family connections.
    In our middle age and later years we had also besides our children [to consider their adult education and future careers]; to face the prospect of the in-laws/outlaws as parents and where they resided in the latter days of their life. At this point in life we resided in Bedfordshire, and our parents resided in the Leeds area: WE both had siblings in the Leeds area, but as we were the eldest children of our family, the responsibilities rested heavily with us both.
    In the instance of my wife’s father and mother they lived in a warden controlled housing complex, and when my father in law died, we had to consider my wife’s mother: However she was happy in her community, and sadly passed away some 2 years after the father in law before becoming infirmed… [Both my in laws died aged in their early 70’s.]
    My own parents considered warden controlled housing; however this was not practical as they were joint house owners, and denied too them as an option. My parents downsized and move within the locality to a bungalow (one levelled living and smaller accommodation overall to heat, and pay council tax on.-however not a smaller garden). While both of them were alive this presented no major problems, only that Dad was the breadwinner and the only income in retirement; mum had no pension rights other than the state married person joint pension. Dad retired at 65 and as they moved to the bungalow in their early 70’s and reached there late 70’s the running costs for the bungalow became problematic, and the upkeep of external/internal decorations, the upgrading of the kitchen and bathroom became desirable, but cost wise impractical.
    Dad died at the age of 81 and mum was diagnosed as or with the onset of alhzmiers: It became necessary to consider the option for MUM. This was difficult all of us siblings were working, and the individual families were all dealing with teenage children, and our houses were not conducive to taking in Mum as a permanent resident on any long term basis. This maybe cold hearted and Unfeeling, however Mum in her late 70’s with the onset of Alzheimer’s we were aware of constant telephone calls, frequent requests for physical company by known family members. {This was difficult due to the physical distances between each of us siblings.} Mum in the Bungalow was becoming a problem both to herself and each of us as a family unit. The solution most difficult as Mum would not invite known neighbours over the threshold and definitely not strangers [even if care workers], and at night time would not entertain a full time night nurse, or one solution we suggested was a live in companion. Mum was adamant to stay in the bungalow, or with one of us siblings! WE had reached an impasse as a family: Mum’s demand for constant attention and the geographical distances between us siblings made the decision for mum to reside with any one of us was more than onerous which we as individual siblings and families did not wish to and could not accept.

    Our responsibilities as taught by mum and dad were firstly to our children, then consider the older generation.
    WE were reaching a milestone Mum was becoming in her daily routine disorientated and lost in the local township, being returned to the bungalow by persons who or whom knew off her, and then when home us siblings would receive a message that Mum need care and was safely at home. This became distressing to us all. At this time we became aware of social services, and their powers both financial and actual and the mental health act and enforced committal under the act for secure accommodation for mum. This was all a revelation and the freedom of choice Mum wished was not possible at this point in her life. Here we were in a cleft stick and a situation we could not escape-WE had all {siblings with our families} booked the same month for our individual holidays, and some of our own times overlapped each other. WE scoured the local area for retirement homes with a view to housing Mum [at the choice we had as a family- not one determined by social services], for a respite period. This was done and Mum thoroughly enjoyed the company, surrounds, and general feeling and ambience of the staff and residents. This turned out in the long run to be a good placement, and Mum lived for the next 10 years dying happy at the age of 94 among friends, and seeing her first great great granddaughter, and all though Mum had Alzheimer’s, she still knew us at all the end!
    This is a shaggy dog story of sorts? However if I recall my/our memories and decisions of the past, what do I want as I grow older in my years of retirement, and while you note the solution is for the few as you point out, life offers many twists and turns, and what my wife and I are looking for, is security of tenure, warmth, overall security, and friends and fellow residents of various life experiences with whom one can grow older with as a couple or when and if bereaved with friend of whom you have shared one last years, with enjoyment, as you say this is not for everyone, including MUMS and DADS.
    It is difficult to be objectives especially if one reflects on the close knit communities of the textile, mining, shipbuilding and general and motor industries etc. shoe industry, and immigrant communities of our larger cities. What is a reasonable solution to old age??

  3. John,s model of security, support and well being, and caring staff and an active input into ones lifestyle by either volunteering or active participation in residents/staff meetings within the village, plus the Village Activities facilitator role for those with impediments of Alzheimer.s or the onset of it, and not allowing the retirement village to become a ”dump” of unwanted elderly, the environment to live in stays fresh and vibrant, as it has in my past experience for the last 10 years. Activities are plentiful and encouraged for what ever the residents groups may wish for, and group social and entertainment is arranged on a frequent basis, at a small additional cost. It is all to play for, and as John says one can duck and dive into all or what interests them personally.
    All ways available in the background is professional help/advice free on initial engagement of the discussion, the solution is yours to do as you may wish!
    It may appear costly, but then by a visit and a talk to the organisation, it can be done on a budget.

  4. david w freeman says:

    Dear Alex the expenditure on the older generation remaining status quo in their existing environment, and encouraged with more investment?
    In the SE of england one is often in a larger commuting belt for the cities of London and Birmingham, and thier suburbs. I would respectful suggest that amongst the various residential areas are the elderly, mixed with the commuting community, and their maybe many varied and diverse centres of interest.In a community which is predominatley working and commuting there may be periods during the day when the environment is empty of residents.[The later model of living in the Uk has been work ethos/ enjoyment and then children in their 30’s + –different to my younger days experience both as a child and younger married man]. So how do the local councils spend monies wisely upon the population at large, and yet maintain a community feeling??
    A retirement village is not he simple answer or that of an old peoples home (residential or nursing), for the elderly: However various organistions have looked and studied this problem! The conundrum is scale/size.Originally care /nursing homes where for reasons I i am unaware off where generally designed to cater for some 40-65 residents on a single site. This has been expanded to include on the same site ; a care and or nuring home for some 60 people plus residential independent units to buy/rent for another 60 residents- the idea being one had the facilities all within the same complex, and may depending upon their fraility end up their days in the nursing home. This model had been built and is in existance by a few organisations, quite sucessfully.
    What John has done is look a whole community of elderly persons, able/mobile and active in mind, and wish to live an independent life style, developed on one site some complies for a minimum of 250 residential accommodation [some 330+ residents] put them on one site with an input of support (domicilary Care), and created a simulated fabric village facilites essential for day to day living, and a centre hub based on a village hall/ a communial kitchen and resturaunt doubling up on required occasssions into one large arena or venue that would involve the whole community, living as visulised as indepentent living. This John has termed a ”Retirement Village”.
    When one looks at reality and communial investement? How does one support all individual persons within their own own semi’s detached housing on residential estates, mixed in with commuting community, or providing a grannie annex for mum or dad. It is not as you say Alex a solution for all, but by the same token what is the answer? You do have a vote even if it is with your feet?

  5. davidwfreeman237 says:

    Dear Alex the expenditure on the older generation remaining status quo in their existing environment, and encouraged with more investment?
    In the SE of england one is often in a larger commuting belt for the cities of London and Birmingham, and thier suburbs. I would respectful suggest that amongst the various residential areas are the elderly, mixed with the commuting community, and their maybe many varied and diverse centres of interest.In a community which is predominatley working and commuting there may be periods during the day when the environment is empty of residents.[The later model of living in the Uk has been work ethos/ enjoyment and then children in their 30’s + –different to my younger days experience both as a child and younger married man]. So how do the local councils spend monies wisely upon the population at large, and yet maintain a community feeling??
    A retirement village is not he simple answer or that of an old peoples home (residential or nursing), for the elderly: However various organistions have looked and studied this problem! The conundrum is scale/size.Originally care /nursing homes where for reasons I i am unaware off where generally designed to cater for some 40-65 residents on a single site. This has been expanded to include on the same site ; a care and or nuring home for some 60 people plus residential independent units to buy/rent for another 60 residents- the idea being one had the facilities all within the same complex, and may depending upon their fraility end up their days in the nursing home. This model had been built and is in existance by a few organisations, quite sucessfully.
    What John has done is look a whole community of elderly persons, able/mobile and active in mind, and wish to live an independent life style, developed on one site some complies for a minimum of 250 residential accommodation [some 330+ residents] put them on one site with an input of support (domicilary Care), and created a simulated fabric village facilites essential for day to day living, and a centre hub based on a village hall/ a communial kitchen and resturaunt doubling up on required occasssions into one large arena or venue that would involve the whole community, living as visulised as indepentent living. This John has termed a ”Retirement Village”.
    When one looks at reality and communial investement? How does one support all individual persons within their own own semi’s detached housing on residential estates, mixed in with commuting community, or providing a grannie annex for mum or dad. It is not as you say Alex a solution for all, but by the same token what is the answer? You do have a vote even if it is with your feet?

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