February 2, 2021
The continuum of care is a concept that has defined the retirement village experience in New Zealand for nearly 40 years. This integrated approach to care was designed to ensure that as people aged, their care levels could be increased without moving them out of their chosen village.
This marketable and highly advertised feature of retirement villages is achieved by offering different types of accommodation and different care packages to meet a broad spectrum of needs. When most people enter a retirement village, they choose the independent living unit (ILU) that best suits their requirements.
When their needs change, retirement operators offer them serviced apartments or care suites in the care centre, which are better suited to their current circumstances. However, because these ‘requirements’ are rather subjective, there can be disagreements between residents, families and operators about whether extra care (and, therefore extra expense) is warranted.
As the industry evolves over the next decade, this continuum of care needs updating to reflect changing consumer preferences and vastly improved technology that can help people remain independent for longer. Before expecting residents to move to a new house, operators could offer a number of intermediate care options that would enable them to stay in the house they originally chose.
New generation retirement villages are already doing this by investing in innovative technology and services to transform traditional ILUs into smart homes with on-demand virtual healthcare and safety monitoring.
At retirement villages operated by Qestral Corporation, independent residents can access levels of care that other operators reserve for serviced apartments. At Alpine View and Burlington for example, residents don’t have to move into a serviced apartment or care centre to receive daily care check-ins, daily vital monitoring, routine nurse oversight, on-demand telehealth, medication reminders, meal delivery, housekeeping and laundry. This level of care is available in every independent house.
By making a tangible commitment to managing the health of residents in independent houses they make those houses (and by extension those villages) a more desirable choice for people that want to avoid the care centre as long as possible. As more villages expand their own continuum of care by investing in this kind of age-friendly technology, it will be residents and their families that are the winners, with more choice and greater freedom.