The conversations of life

The case for retirement villages with serviced apartments

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If you moved into an aged care facility five years ago you could expect to stay there and live there for three years. That was the average length of time.

Today you can expect to live there for 18 months – the time has halved.

Most of us will say this is great news – none of us is rushing to make the one way trip to a ‘nursing home’. But let’s look at why the average stay has halved. It may not be all good news.

Simply put, we are staying at home longer and entering aged care homes very much sicker. As one Registered Nurse said to me last week, many new residents are more suited to hospital admission.

How would you cope?

But here is the question. How would you cope at home when you are seriously sick or frail, in need of high level medical supervision and assistance, maybe around the clock and definitely seven days a week?

The answer for all but the very few who have unlimited funds or a dedicated family for support, is not well.

Medication, cleanliness, food preparation, house maintenance, shopping: all increasingly suffer as we become frailer. More drastic is mental health. Fear becomes an increasing constant. Fear of a fall and nobody to help us – fear of the future. Plus isolation and loneliness and concern about your own mental strength. Not an attractive scenario.

On top of all this is the fact modern medicine is keeping us alive longer in this sick and frail state.

What to do? One resounding answer is to go back to the proven models of the past. Retirement accommodation which offers serviced apartments – a one bedroom or studio apartment with limited cooking facilities but a communal dinning room, housekeeping and medical support. Plus, importantly, people around who will keep an eye on you and provide social contact.

All 75 apartments at The Grove development in Randwick, sold out in seven weeks.
All 75 apartments at The Grove development in Randwick, sold out in seven weeks.

Serviced apartments are in fact an upscale version of what we used to call hostel accommodation and they are making a comeback. This is good news.

They are ideally based in retirement villages because villages have the economies of scale to share the funding of a village manager and administration. They also have people around who are ageing but not yet frail. They provide company and volunteer support. From a straight business model, villages provide an ongoing supply of customers to the serviced apartments and that also keep costs down.

Over one million searching for a solution 

Proof that more people are searching for a solution is the sky rocketing number of people who are visiting our sister web site – villages.com.au – for accommodation solutions. This year we will have one million searches for a possible new home to age in, compared to 500,000 in 2013; a 100 per cent increase.

And new models of supported living are emerging and selling in record time.

The Grove at St Basils in Randwick, Sydney, is a 75-apartment retirement village development with all levels of care in the same complex. All 75 apartments were sold in seven weeks. 

Henley on Broadwater at the Gold Coast is a high rise village of 125 apartments which was virtually vacant for six years. A new owner introduced 24/7 nursing and an insurance type program to pay for future care in your apartment. They are now selling six apartments a month.

Residents are leaving one retirement village in Melbourne to join a new village which offers serviced apartments and aged care as an integrated path.

So serviced apartments make sense and customers are making the switch.

To find villages with serviced apartments, check villages.com.au HERE.

Christopher Baynes

Chris Baynes is a columnist and publisher of Frank & Earnest. He is also the publisher of Villages.com.au, the leading national directory of retirement villages and aged care services in Australia.


Discussion1 Comment

  1. Excellent article as always, Keryn. The factors that differentiate the “new” retirement villages from the “old” are both the availability and the actuality of care and services within an environment where that care can be delivered whilst maintaining/fostering an interesting, engaging, largely-independent lifestyle. These do not, however, need to be one-bedroom apartments or bed-sits. We are seeing this done with two or more bedroom apartments.

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