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Retirees Fared Better in Retirement Villages During the Pandemic


11/05/2021 General, Wadswick Green

The pandemic has turned a spotlight on the housing needs of older people and new ground-breaking research has revealed that retirement villages and extra care housing not only safeguarded the lives of residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic (RE-COV study), but helped them thrive. The study revealed:

  • The lower-than-expected number of residents who lived in housing with care that died from COVID-19 in comparison to people of the same age living in normal housing in England.
  • The positive effects of operator’s and staff initiatives to help support residents with daily living, social engagement, community and personal activities.

Research increasingly shows that those living in a retirement community will live a healthier life for longer compared to those living in general housing, where there is the potential for loneliness and not having access to care or support. In fact, the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) reports that if 250,000 people lived in retirement housing with care by 2030, this would save the NHS and the social care sector £5.6 billion. However, Knight Frank reports there are just 78,000 housing with care properties in the UK, accommodating only 0.8 per cent of the eligible population, compared with 6 per cent in the US, 5.5 per cent in New Zealand and 5 per cent in Australia.

A resident survey was conducted at later living village Wadswick Green, Corsham, in which 92% said they felt extremely safe, supported and comforted, knowing other people were around during the lockdowns, plus they enjoyed organised activities including outdoor Zumba and aerobics and being free to socialise within restrictions. To date, Wadswick Green has had no cases of COVID-19 amongst its residents.

Liz Spokes, a resident at Wadswick Green, says “The team have supported us in a tremendous way over the lockdowns. They opened a shop for us with all the essentials, so we did not have to leave the village and it was such a success it has become a permanent feature. They also organised takeaways from The Greenhouse restaurant, which were brilliant because it meant we didn’t have to cook all the time.”

The village offers its residents tailored personal care plans via its Rangeford Care service and the village team is available 24/7. In addition, Wadswick Green offers its residents a concierge service that can assist with a range of requests including driving residents to doctors’ appointments, picking up prescriptions, helping them set up Zoom so that they can stay in touch with family and friends, food shopping orders, as well as house maintenance. These services were particularly welcomed by residents during the strictest lockdown restrictions.

Caroline Evans, Wadswick Green’s Care Manager, says: “Over the lockdown period we had a lot of residents saying how pleased they were to be here because they would have been completely isolated in their previous home. Even residents that don’t receive care say they are happy as they have peace of mind that care is available should they need it… Even if a resident doesn’t have a care package set up, we frequently run welfare checks across all our residents.”

The RE-COV study found that the design and external and internal layout of housing with care schemes, plus the self-contained nature of individual apartments, which enabled residents to isolate and keep their distance, played a large factor in helping to safeguard residents.

Wadswick Green was designed in such a way to help combat loneliness whilst promoting independent living. Homes are grouped together into spacious courtyards, making residents more likely to step outside and see someone they know, whilst all homes have their own private front door. There are also numerous benches spread out across the 25-acre development, all set in beautiful landscaped gardens with mature trees providing plenty of opportunities to chance upon a neighbour enjoying some fresh air too.

Howard Nankivell, Rangeford Villages CEO, says: “This important research has illustrated the hugely beneficial role that communities like Wadswick Green play in providing later living options to a growing number of residents. Although obviously not created specifically to provide ‘safe havens’ during a pandemic, the principles of independent living in an inclusive and supported environment have proved invaluable and this is reflected in the surge of interest in our apartments since January.”

 

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