Yes you can (with your chance for free tickets!)

The CEO of the UK’s leading developer of affordable retirement communities will challenge & inspire Australian aged care & retirement living providers with the secrets to that organisation’s success during a forthcoming visit to Australia.

Above: Hear how it works: Nick Abbey, Chief Executive, Extra Care Charitable Trust, UK

By Keryn Curtis

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t provide a wide range of affordable housing and care options for a diverse range of older people, all in the one development, and still make a buck.

A lively mix of purchase and rental properties, with a range of ownership and payment options is at the heart of one of the UK’s most successful retirement community organisations, according to its Chief Executive.

Nick Abbey is Chief Executive of The ExtraCare Charitable Trust (ECCT), based in Coventry, England, which describes its offering as ‘alternatives to nursing and care homes’.  He is visiting Australia next month to share some of the secrets of this successful not for profit retirement living (with care) group.

Mr Abbey will lead a series of workshops in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth which aim to provide a better understanding of the operational, financial and cultural factors in the increasingly popular ‘apartments for life’ style of seniors living communities.

Abbey says the Extra Care Charitable Trust experience is that, if you build them what they want, they will come.  And what they want, he says, is to be able to live as independently as they can, with security and support, in a vibrant, connected community.

A much better way

“I think it is a much better way of ‘ageing in place’,” he says of the development approach where all residents, regardless of their care needs or ability to pay, live in their own apartments within a community offering a range of care, health, retail, hospitality, and lifestyle services.

“We have a mixed tenure; not everyone is receiving care and there’s a big emphasis on volunteers, because a major part of it is countering social isolation,” says Abbey.  

“The market we are in is one that people don’t do very much. There’s a perception that sales and rentals don’t mix well.  But we think it does.  

“If you walk down a corridor or meet someone in the garden, you can’t tell whether they are renting or buying.  You also can’t necessarily tell whether that person has a care or support need.  There is no particular part of the village where you live if you have care needs.”  

Abbey says that in a typical village of 250-260 apartments, there might be about 40 per cent of residents buying outright, another 30 per cent doing shared ownership (where the resident pays part of the cost of the apartment and the provider owns the rest) and the remaining residents will be paying some form of rent. About a third will be receiving some form of care package. Typically, the waiting list for access to one of the homes is around 200.

“The shared ownership option means you can still buy your way in. But instead of buying 100 per cent, you might only buy a half or a quarter of the full cost.  Then you pay a smaller amount of rent on the bit that you don’t own.

“Some people are paying just a small rent – what is known as a social rent – that is fixed by the government according to the location and size of the property, he said.” 

Making it add up

If it sounds like a risky model, it is worth attending one of the workshops. 

“The message is, there are a lot of benefits in this model and we are starting to prove that,” says Abbey.

“We opened the first stage of our new Shenley Wood Village in Milton Keynes in February this year. In Milton Keynes we have two village. Lovatt Fields Village has 260 units on one side of the city, and when it is finished, Shenley Wood will offer another 300 on the other side.  But for that first stage, opened in February, about 100 of the apartments were for sale and every one of them had exchanged contracts by the time we opened.”

Under the financial model, the proceeds of the sales of the apartments help to cross-subsidise the affordable payment options as well as the costs of elements like the bar and the gym. The ongoing costs of these services are helped by them being commercially available to the wider community, not just the village; while a chain of 61 charity shops, operated by volunteers, brought in £790k in 2011.

The Abbey workshop series follows a similar series held last year, led by the chairman of the Humanitas Foundation in the Netherlands, Dr Hans Becker.  Dr Becker is regarded as the architect of the Humanitas ‘apartments for life’ concept which has developed something of an iconic status in retirement living and seniors housing and care circles in Australia in recent years.

The approach has attracted a lot of interest in Australia, partly due to the high profile gained by the Benevolent Society in the development process for its own Apartments for Life project in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.   

Ironically, despite the noted similarities to the Apartments for Life approach, the Extra Care Charitable Trust’s model for ‘inspirational communities’ evolved quite independently of any knowledge of Humanitas. 

“The first I heard of the apartments for life model and Humanitas was when I was here a couple of years ago and Barbara Squires from the Benevolent Society [now at IRT] said to me, this is what Hans Becker does in Netherlands.  I said, I didn’t know him or that organisation but at the time I was relatively new, so I got in touch with my predecessor. 

“He had never heard of Humanitas either; but I have since looked at it and it looks great.”

Your chance for a free registration

Nick Abbey will be leading three one-day workshops in Australia in July as part of the 2nd Ageing Asia Leadership series:

Developing & operating inspirational communities for over 55s – How Australian retirement villages & aged care homes can sustainably apply the Apartments for Life concept.

  • 17 July 2012 Melbourne 
  • 19 July 2012 Sydney 
  • 24 July 2012 Perth

To be eligible to win one of three free registrations – one in each of the three cities – make a comment in the comments box below, with your name and the city where you would like to attend the workshop, before 5pm on Tuesday 19 June.  AAA will use random number generating software to select a winner for each event.

* Please note, this offer only includes the one-day workshop registration and does not include any meals, travel or accommodation costs that may be involved in attending an event who will be notified by email.

Tags: ageing-asia-leadership-workshop, apartments-for-life, extra-care-charitable-trust, humanitas-foundation, nick-abbey, retirement-villages, uk,

17 thoughts on “Yes you can (with your chance for free tickets!)

  1. A very interesting model. Charity Shops in the UK are huge and make a lot more money than here. That could easily chage over time to support the massive cost of affordable retirment living and Aged Care.

  2. In my previous comment i failed to mention I would like to attend the workshop in Melbourne so I will repeat it here.
    This sounds like a very interesting model, particularly with the financial input of the Charity Shops. Charity Shops are huge in the UK and a similar approach here could be a very helpful way of contributing to the cost of retirement living and Aged Care services for those without the means in Australia.

  3. Quite apart from the fact that I’m a longtime admirer of ECCT and I would love to attend the Sydney workshop (!), I think we have a lot to learn in this country from the leadership shown by organisations like this one… They start from what they know people want and what research shows will meet their needs – and their government seems more accepting of allowing itself to be led by providers who find solutions that work. Wintringham manages to make this approach work here, but it does seem much harder for us to step outside existing funding and policy frameworks than it is for UK providers…what are the structural reforms that could help us harness the knowledge and experience of our providers in the same way?

  4. I have a solution I want to implement for dementia patients but just don’t have the funds to do it! It’s really frustrating when u want to help people but it involves a lot of money to get started in the first place. Why can’t we just provide free care and help each other?

  5. This model of care sounds very interesting. I would love to attend the Perth workshop to find out more.

  6. We need to stop building larger and larger institutions and start building supportive housing!Who doesn’t want to live at home?
    If I win I’d like to attend the Perth workshop please.

  7. We would be very pleased to have our Operations Manager – Housing attend the PERTH event.

  8. Please acce[t this as my entry for the Sydney Workshop Keryn Curtis and Nick Abbey, would much appreciate to attend your Sydney workshop.

    Looking forward to your reply

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