The concept of continuum of care within Retirement Villages

Feb 16
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The ‘Continuum of Care’ concept in the New Zealand context relates to the provision of an array of housing and combined services to cater for the changing needs of residents as they age within a single campus or retirement village setting. 

Sounds like a great idea, but there are plenty of examples where the concept has not worked so well:  with unsaleable serviced apartments converted to independent living; villages not selling down due to perceptions that it’s ‘just an aged care place’; location factors creating operational issues such as lack of trained staff.  Ensuring these and other issues are avoided is critical to the successful design and implementation of a continuum of care within a village. 

“Too young for that kind of place”

Perhaps a starting point for those considering this style of development is the philosophical perceptions of best practice aged housing within the greater community.  These perceptions certainly change over time.  I recall in Australia back 10 or so years, most potential residents would ensure there was not a care facility within the village before making a decision as ‘they were too young for that type of place’.  The complete opposite was true when I arrived in New Zealand in 2011 – the first question prospects had for the sales team was, “what level of care is available in your village?

Ageing in place, as a government policy to keep people at home for longer, or an industry trends like Apartments for Life, are very valid alternatives which need to be understood when developing your product and marketing strategy.  Understanding issues like isolation at home and separation of elderly couples as care needs increase are very strong arguments for a continuum of care model.

The ideal model combines ILU/ILA, serviced apartment, high/low and dementia care offerings enabling residents to remain on campus under virtually any eventuality.  A palliative offering is also becoming more important including modern purpose designed facilities for both residents and families.

Social utility and wellbeing

The layout of a facility with great thought around location of common facilities relative to care and independent accommodation is critical. Independent residents are entitled to an active and vibrant community area which can be easily compromised without clear demarcation between accommodation types.  Conversely, it should also be remembered that younger independent residents can add a great deal of life to residents in more restricted environs including serviced apartments.

Interesting, as residents age they become more accepting of the older/frailer members of the community.  Tolerance increases greatly once relationships are built over time as residents age together.  Developing the independent residents sense of social utility and consequently greater wellbeing is compelling recommendation, amongst many others, for this type of community living.

Part of the new drive for this continuum is the ever increasing life expectancy in our populations.  As this trend continues, the level of acuity around care needs (and average age) of residents rises as does the need for services outside the standard retirement village offering.

The Driving Growth in Retirement Living conference will explore strategies for driving enquiry and integrating care to expand your portfolio. Book soon to secure your place!


Submitted by Bill McDonald

Bill McDonald

Bill McDonald is Chief Executive Officer of Arvida Group. He entered the aged care and retirement industry as CEO for a community owned organisation in country Victoria. Having successfully guided the organisation through the accreditation process, Bill was approached by the Buxton Group to assist in the development of an exclusive retirement housing brand. In early 2008 Stockland acquired the Rylands business with Bill joining Stockland in the executive role of Regional Operations Manager for Victoria, operating Stockland’s 24 Retirement villages. In January 2011 Bill accepted the position of General Manager of ING’s retirement assets in New Zealand.

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