Retirees are no longer happy to settle for bland aged-care homes.
Instead, they are seeking out resort-style lifestyle communities with everything from in-house chefs and high-speed data technology to fully-equipped gyms and social amenities.
And the trend is reflected in new developments across Australia.
Recently, the Aged Care Services Australia Group published what it considered to be the four key trends set to shake up the sector over the next decade.
Demand for services and the likelihood of high costs for care were flagged, but the advocacy group also foreshadowed an increasing movement towards lifestyle amenities and improved technology.
“With the Baby Boomer generation typically asset-rich thanks to the value of their residential property and superannuation funds, they’ll both expect and be able to fund a standard of living not dissimilar to their younger, independent years,” the report said.
“This can be seen in everything from the increasingly architect-designed nature of aged-care facilities, which feature ample natural light and polished surfaces, to concierge services and in-house chefs preparing gourmet meals on a daily basis.”
The trend is already being embraced by Queensland developers, with residents of the Living Gems communities enjoying facilities such as lounge bars, games rooms, libraries with computers, fully-equipped gyms and workshops, and even a golf simulator.
It is a similar story at the newer Aveo developments, where retirement complexes are going vertical. At one of the developer’s newest projects,
Aveo Newstead, residents will be able to relax at the rooftop lounge, overlooking the iconic Gasworks precinct.
The development, which opens mid-next year, boasts stunning city views and is within walking distance of cafes, bars and restaurants. It is hardly the sterile surrounds of the not-so-distant past.
Social demographer Bernard Salt said anyone using the word “retirement” to sell their product needed to get with the times.
“Retirement is for old and obsolete people – lifestyle is what people want,” Mr Salt said.
RPS Brisbane planning principal Simon Pollock said a greater range of housing options for seniors was, and needed to be, pursued, with retirees healthier and living longer.
“The deinstitutionalisation of aged care has seen a trend towards multistorey living, an evolution in services and how the aged care sector pitches towards potential customers,” he said. “We now have a wide band of people ranging from those living in their own homes and accessing outside services, or living in manufactured home estates, those in luxury retirement living with a range of lifestyle amenities, to those, and they are an increasingly small number, who require more intensive care.”
Another trend, identified by RPS, was seeing aged-care facilities becoming more connected to their local community.
Mr Pollock pointed to a retirement village at Nundah which had integrated a cafe that was open to the public.
“They still provide that secure environment but are actively encouraging more interaction with the community,” he said.
“There is that push towards providing options within the customers’ community, rather than the previous model which saw many older people moved in to facilities until their lives ended.”
Even the descriptive names have changed, with many aged-care facilities and retirement villages now called, for example, over-50s lifestyle resorts.
Pets are playing a bigger part in the pitch of developers, as are the inclusion of technology and resort-style facilities. So what next? Mr Pollock said the aged-care sector was evolving quickly, and the demographics changing.
“I would say, given the advances in technology, that will be the biggest player in terms of offerings over the next decade,” he said.
“You will be able to visit the doctor via a tablet, or have your vitals monitored remotely and sent directly, in real time, to a medical professional.
“There will likely be health hubs and a whole host of wearables (such as the Apple watch).”
Aveo Newstead residents will be able to relax on the rooftop lounge, overlooking the iconic Gasworks precinct.