FAQs Part 3: Ageing in place. What does it mean?
Welcome to Part Three of a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about retirement villages. This article follows on from Part 2: What do retirement village general service or maintenance fees cover?
In this article, we’ll explore the term ageing in place and what it means.
Please note, the information below is generic in nature and is relevant to retirement villages across Victoria as defined by the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Vic).
If you’d like to find out more about Retirement Communities Australia’s (RCA) retirement villages and understand how our model works, we invite you to telephone, or visit one of our village websites:
www.wyndhamgrange.com.au in Tarneit. Freecall 1800 123 131.
www.mainstvillage.com.au in Main Street Pakenham. Freecall 1800 77 02 22.
www.marthacovevillage.com.au at Safety Beach. Freecall 1800 633 126.
www.pointcookvillage.com.au at Point Cook. Freecall 1800 64 52 64.
www.beleuravillage.com.au at Mornington. Freecall 1800 633 126.
What does ageing in place mean?
Retirement Communities Australia (RCA) has a rich history of developing and establishing retirement villages throughout Victoria, over a number of decades. As Australia’s ageing demographic shifts – to a healthier, more active group of people who are living longer ― so do the lifestyle aspirations and needs of our seniors.
At RCA we define ageing in place as “having everything in place to support you to grow older comfortably and safely in your own home, without the need to have to move because of changing health or mobility needs”.
Ageing in the right place
For the majority of independent, active seniors, the family home is rarely suitable for ageing in place ― for the longer term.
Family homes often include yards big enough to house a swing and slide set, room to kick a footy, a number of garden beds ― for aesthetics and for back yard produce; and maybe even a swimming pool. To reduce the footprint of a home to free up yard space, double storey homes with internal and external stairs worked well for growing families. Perfect for growing families.
As children grow up, and move out of home, the neighbourhood begins to change and can become unfamiliar over time. Traffic may have increased. It is no longer the community you raised your family in.
Without significant modifications, and spare money to outsource ongoing maintenance such as garden maintenance and building upkeep, the family home is unlikely to be the right location for ageing in place, well and securely.
Ageing in place and retirement villages
Retirement village developers progressively morph designs of villages, the amenities and villas or apartments with the needs of prospective village residents.
Here are common features that you will find in quality retirement villages that prioritise supporting residents to age in place:
- 24 hour medical emergency call systems: while a spritely 60 year old may not feel it necessary to have an emergency call system, at the very least, it gives family peace of mind as their loved one’s health changes over time.
- Conveniently located to amenities: a quality village will usually be located within walking distance to key amenities, services and infrastructure. RCA’s Managing Director, Andrew Philip, says that when seeking to develop new villages, RCA is keen to locate them in areas where services and amenity is first rate and lifestyle options are premium.
- Ease of cleaning: fixtures and fittings will be chosen for being easily accessible (for example larger light switches) and easy to clean. Frameless shower screens are a good example of an easy to clean fixture.
- External lighting and well placed, easy to use, internal light switches: safely lit external grounds and pathways, and well placed internal light switches can help minimise the risk of tripping or falling.
- Grounds and amenities maintenance: if you suffer a health hiccup, or surgical procedure requiring rest and recovery, maintaining a house block and ageing buildings becomes a substantial burden. A retirement village will look after the mundane, physically demanding maintenance of the village grounds and amenities. This means you have more time to either recover, or if your health is good, enjoy indulging in some well-earned leisure time.
- No steps: as mobility declines whether temporary or ongoing, tripping hazards can contribute to falls. No internal or external steps is a feature that reduces falling risks. You don’t want to be stepping over a shower tray, or into a combined bath and shower if you’re recovering from a medical procedure, or if your mobility is presenting a challenge.
- On-site nurse or health care professional: a quality retirement village will have an on-site health care professional available to help with nursing care, or even coordinate medical appointments.
- On-site management: staffed in business hours, you always have a well-known on-site manager to call on if any maintenance issues, or concerns arise. It is also very reassuring to have an experienced manager on site that knows the community, and can identify any unusual behaviour or unwelcome guests.
- Recreational facilities supporting active health or recovery programs: staying active promotes wellbeing and good health. Indoor swimming pools, gymnasiums, walking clubs, exercise classes, bowling greens and amenities that encourage social activities can all contribute to the health and longevity of village residents. You can choose to be alone, to be social, or to engage in physical activity when it suits you.
- Shower screens are frameless glass: frameless glass is easy to clean, there is no stepping over shower trays or bath edges, and no risk of awkward sliding or hinged doors to get in and out of.
- A village bus can replace the need for a car: if driving your car is no longer an option, a village bus will give you the mobility and freedom you need to live independently.
- Your Home and Community Care (HACC) service providers are welcome. It’s your home after all: if you are eligible for HACC services, service providers will come to you in your home. Because other residents may also avail their HACC packages, a retirement village setting can make for a more efficient HACC service as it reduces the service providers commuting time.
While there are still health circumstances that may require moving into a high care aged service facility, the expectation of progressive accommodation moves as you age ― from retirement village, to low care, to high care ― is becoming less of a reality.