Care Options - Retirement Villages
What is a Retirement Village?
Retirement Villages, also known as retirement communities or care villages are relatively new to the UK but are growing quickly, offering a variety of housing types, an extended range of facilities for older people, and attractive settings. Retirement Villages are generally large developments consisting of individual properties which are available to buy, rent or part own. The villages offer independent flats or bungalows, with central leisure facilities such as shops, swimming pools and restaurants. Depending on the provision of the individual village, residents can buy additional care provision as and when they need it, from meals to 24 hour nursing or dementia care.
What is the housing like?
The housing within a retirement village is usually an independent flat or bungalow, but one which essentially which allows people to enjoy the independence, security and privacy that comes with owning their own home and having "their own front door”. There is usually no garden to worry about and people are free from the worry of maintaining a traditional home. There are normally terms relating to living in a community setting - some do not allow pets, for example, so be sure to check for any restrictions.
Where will I be living?
Each village an active community in its own right, with its own amenities and facilities. This provides opportunities for plenty of social interaction and an active lifestyle all on one site. There are usually organised activities and events which you can take part in if you wish and many communities have their own leisure centres, shops, surgeries, libraries and so on which are even more useful if you give up driving.
However, there are some points to be aware of. Smooth running can sometimes depend on the tact and skills of the manager. Other residents may try to introduce rules with which you disagree. The guest accommodation may be booked when you need it. In spite of owning your own property, you may find yourself needing to compromise on certain issues.
What care can I receive?
In general, living in a retirement village can give you access to flexible care, tailored to meet your needs at the time. It is vital that you check the provision for more care, before making your decision, as there are some villages which will expect you to find alternative accommodation if your needs cannot be provided for (check for 24 hour nursing or dementia care). Many villages have care homes or dementia homes on site, so although you may need to move from your independent flat, you will still be situated in the same community. This can be a reassurance for couples. It is important that you find out the costs of buying in any care before making your decision about a retirement village, as it can be charged as an hourly rate and costs can mount up easily.
What should I know before buying a property?
Keeping equity in a property can be very tempting for many people. It is a good idea to see if you can rent a property prior to purchasing however, to make sure that the community and facilities are right for you. On the assumption you decide to buy a property this would normally be on a “leasehold” basis. Typically, a lease may last for 100 years initially and when you have finished with the flat, the property could then be resold. It is important to check your options for when the property is no longer needed – are you or your family able to rent it out or sell it (most villages do not allow private leasing or private re-selling), or do you have to sell it back to the managing company? If so, how will you be assured of receiving competitive market value?
Equally, whether you are renting or buying, you will be asked to pay service charges. These are either monthly or annual payments to cover all the services provided, including building maintenance, use of village facilities, heating and lighting of communal areas, use of the fitness facilities, upkeep of the grounds, provision of staff etc. This is in addition to any care which you need to buy. These costs along with terms and conditions should be available on request from any prospective retirement village which you are considering.
Written for yourcarehome - author: Mark Sadler
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