For many people, the term ‘retirement village’ conjures up mental images of nursing homes in which residents lack independence and require a high level of support.
In recent years, media investigations have sadly revealed systematic failures in the aged care industry, and highlighted that quality care has been sorely lacking in some cases. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has shone a light on several shortfalls in the current care provided to many elderly people across Australia.
However, the retirement sector is an entirely different industry, and caters for residents who are independent, active, and social.
So what is a retirement village and how is it different from aged care?
First, let’s backtrack a little and clarify what a retirement village actually is.
Retirement villages are residential communities designed for people who are generally over the age of 65 and retired from full-time work. Plenty of residents continue to work and volunteer while enjoying village life.
In contrast, aged care facilities cater for those who need full-time care and can no longer live independently. They are funded by both the Australian Government and the residents themselves. Residents often require 24/7 assistance with health management and personal care, such as dressing, showering, medication management, and cooking.
Moving into aged care is rarely a choice: it often occurs following a significant health incident or when it’s considered necessary for one’s health and safety.
Now let’s address some further misconceptions about retirement villages.
Fact versus fiction: my lifestyle will be restricted
Some people fear that life in a retirement village is restricted, but nothing could be further from the truth.
You’re welcome to join in a range of social events and activities but there’s no pressure to do so. You can come and go as you please, and have family and friends stay with you. Many retirement villages also welcome pets.
You’ll also have access to a wide range of facilities – these vary depending on the village you choose but can include a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, bowling green, hair salon, community centre, billiards room and library.
Fact versus fiction: I will be surrounded by people who lack independence
Unless recovering from illness or injury, the vast majority of our residents are physically independent and socially active. On the flip side, we’re there if you need extra support. All villages have a 24-hour emergency call system, and many of our villages have access to home care and supported care apartments.
Fact versus fiction: I will be cut off from the outside world
Many of our villages are gated for extra security and peace of mind. But this doesn’t mean you’re cut off from the broader community. Rather, we encourage our residents to maintain ties and connections outside the village, whether this be with community groups, volunteer work, friends, family, hobbies, church, gym or part-time work.
Most of our villages are close to public transport and well placed to explore the community outside. Many villages also have a private bus and take regular trips to foster connections, experiences and memories outside the village itself.
But what if my care needs change?
RetireAustralia promotes a ‘village for life’ philosophy, and at selected villages across New South Wales and South Australia, we provide a range of living options. This means you can stay in the village you’ve come to know and love, even as your needs change.
You may choose to move into an independent living unit and spend many happy years enjoying the lifestyle and community. Then, if things change and you need additional support, you can move into a care apartment where meals, cleaning and laundry are all taken care of. You’re still living independently, and not in aged care. You get the best of both worlds: care when you need it, on your terms. You’ll also be in a home and community you love, within familiar surroundings, and with your friends close by.
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