Guide to Retirement Villages
Retirement villages have been widespread, and very popular, in the USA for many years and now their popularity is starting to spread to Britain. More and more retired people are looking at retirement villages as comfortable and practical places to live once they have the freedom to choose exactly where they want to live. There are now a number of villages spread across the country, often in rural areas but still quite accessible to towns and cities. They offer somewhere where people can live independently, in a small community of similarly-aged people (almost always over 55) in modern properties that are designed with the elderly in mind and with care at hand.
Invariably, when the topic of retirement villages is raised with people in their 50s and 60s, there is a wide spread of opinion about them. Some people believe that they are an excellent way of providing a safe and companionable environment in which to spend their retirement, particularly as they get older, whilst others throw their hands up in horror and say that they are a quick way of becoming institutionalised. For many people in both camps their reaction tends to be emotional rather than based on fact, so this Guide attempts to provide some facts so that you can make up your own mind about them.
Clearly, retirement villages differ in terms of what they offer and the sort of atmosphere they create so the Guide can talk only in generalities; if we are thinking about a retirement village as a serious option we need to go and view some before making up our mind if it's really what we want and, if so, which one to choose. Nevertheless, there are some initial points to bear in mind that might help to shape our thoughts. The Guide will provide those initial points for you.
There are also other types of accommodation for retired people and it is worth pointing out the distinction between them before giving more details on retirement villages in the subsequent pages of the Guide:
You might see some accommodation described as 'Retirement Property'. Retirement properties are similar to retirement villages but they are in more urban areas. They consist of a small estate of purpose-built houses for retired people who wish to maintain independent lives but also want the security of knowing that care is close by.
They usually consist of a mix of terraced, semi-detached and detached bungalows as well as some detached houses on more expensive estates. They will almost always be for purchase on a lease and will provide some sort of communal facilities like a club house. The properties may have a patio or small garden but the space between each property is communal. There will invariably be some form of warden as well as other service staff for cleaning and maybe cooking and laundry.
The Guide is predominantly about retirement villages but many of the points will apply to retirement property, too. As we say above, if you are thinking about retirement villages or retirement property seriously, you need to go and look at some.
Similarly, there is what is known as 'Sheltered Housing'. This is similar to Retirement Property but most sheltered housing is run by local authorities rather than private companies and is rented rather than bought. There is no nursing care but there is an additional level of assistance in the form of a live-in warden who will give personal assistance. If a resident does need proper nursing care the management would obtain it through an agency. For more details on sheltered housing, look at our Guide to Caring for Elderly Parents. You can also look at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which was a pioneer in this field.
There is also something called 'Assisted Living'. The facilities provided are designed for people who want to keep living as independently as possible but who need help with some aspects of everyday life such as preparing meals, dressing, performing household chores and so on. Many facilities have nursing care available but it's not at the same level as a nursing home but at an intermediate level of long-term care appropriate for many older people. Have a look at www.homeswithcare.com. You will find a comprehensive list of assisted living facilities right across the country from a wide variety of operators and individuals.
There are a number of sites that provide what's called 'Close Care'. This offers a full, in your own home, care service and they have to operate under a licence from the local health authority in order to comply with the necessary standards of service and care. A nurse/manager is responsible for the overall care facility and for the day to day running of the organisation.
Finally, there are Care and Nursing Homes for people requiring varying levels of care and assistance. In some homes the fees are paid for by the state, whilst others are privately run and payment comes from the person being cared for or their family. If someone is moving into a home with the assistance of social services, they are expected to contribute towards the fees unless their savings and capital are less than a minimum amount. For more information on these homes, again go to our Guide to Caring for Elderly Parents and also to the laterlife website pages on Nursing, Residential and Care Homes.
It's important to establish the different kinds of accommodation that is available for retired people so that we are at least aware of the distinction between them. However, you can now read the rest of the Guide to find out more about Retirement Villages specifically.
So click one of the links in the box and continue with the laterlife Guide to Retirement Villages to find out more and to help you decide whether they might be for you.
This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team.