The Changing Face of Retirement Villages
Retirement villages have seen a lot of changes in the last few decades, from uninspiring unit blocks filled with bedsits to the designer resort style communities we see today. The retirement villages of today bear little resemblance to twenty or even ten years ago with luxurious designer homes, landscaped gardens and fully equipped clubhouses the norm. Andrew Philip, managing director of Retirement Communities Australia, has witnessed many of the changes firsthand and believes that they are driven by the lifestyle demands of seniors, “people do not just move to a village now when they are finding it difficult to cope with house maintenance or are worried about safety and security. These are still important factors, but many move now for the lifestyle benefits for their next phase of life.”
Where previously retirement villages consisted of eight square bedsits with a parking space at the back of the building, the needs and expectations of retirees have changed significantly over the last 30 years and this has meant that retirement villages have had to evolve to keep up. The changes have affected not just the design of retirement villages and homes but also the range of services offered.
In previous years retirement villages may have had a community room with some chairs and maybe a table tennis table. Now it is normal to see resort style facilities including a swimming pool, fully equipped gym and dining areas capable of hosting large functions and entertainment events. Retirement Communities Australia villages have a 1500 square metre clubhouse which can hold 300 people to a sit down dinner or be used to host small family celebrations. There is also a café which provides a social hub for the community.
In addition to the clubhouse and social facilities, many retirement villages including Point Cook village, Cardinia Waters and Beleura Village now have health club facilities including spa, masseuse and clinics and talks from visiting health professionals. With retirees staying active for longer, there is an emphasis on maintaining good health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally and this is reflected in the range of support services offered.
Design-wise, the options for retirement living are much more attractive and flexible than previously. According to Mr Philip, “we build 18 square two or three bedroom, two bathroom and double lock up garage homes with a study and storage. So now, out of town visitors or children and grandchildren can stay and have their own space in the villa.” This flexibility and range of options allows retirees to maintain their independence while still enjoying the benefits of a community on their doorstep and additional support if and when they need it.
Mr Philip is confident that retirement villages will continue to grow and meet the needs of retirees in the future, “think of anything you imagine you want for the next positive phase of your life, and we at RCA are thinking about that as well. This is the future of villages; delivering what people want in terms of a new home, facilities and, importantly, support services to ensure you stay fitter and healthier longer.”