What’s the difference between a retirement village or retirement community and a care home? This question is frequently asked by people who are already enjoying their retirement, who are approaching retirement and trying to make plans, and also by the families of older people who are trying to help them make living arrangements that will suit their needs over the coming years.

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While care homes and retirement homes may sound similar, the difference between them is fundamental.

So what is a care home?

A care home is a residential home run either by a private operator or, in some cases, by a local authority. It’s there to provide safe, comfortable and supported living for elderly people (or in some cases for others needing care of one kind or another) who have reached the point at which it’s not advisable, or not feasible, for them to continue to live alone.

While not all residents of a care home require the same degree of help and support, community facilities such as a dining room, entertainment facilities and social events will usually be available for the use of all residents.

Care homes are staffed by carers who are trained to assist residents with taking medication, or with carrying out other simple procedures necessary to maintain their wellbeing. Some care homes offer additional healthcare services such as physiotherapy or emergency doctors, usually on a private basis.

In general, a care home works in collaboration with the resident, their family, their own doctor and possibly a local authority, to ensure that the resident is able to live comfortably, happily and safely. For the family of an elderly care home resident, this can be very reassuring, relieving them of daily concern over whether an aging parent is safe.

Retirement villages. A different story entirely.

A retirement village, sometimes also referred to as a retirement community, is a different story entirely.

Retirement villages are essentially private property developments planned and managed exclusively to meet the needs of the over 55 age group. Individuals or couples purchase an apartment (or in some cases a house) in a  retirement community in exactly the same way as they might otherwise purchase one in any other village they liked.

The reason for choosing a retirement community or village is that its planning, the way it is managed and the services available there will all have been designed to provide easy, enjoyable and comfortable living for people from their mid fifties upwards.

As well as offering a range of accommodation suitable for one-, two- or more person occupation, retirement communities will usually have first class leisure facilities (like gyms, pools, tennis courts, yoga studios, restaurants and bars) on hand. There will usually be well lit, secure parking, and the entire community will generally be served 24 hours a day by a security team.

While care provision is not generally a part of the core services offered by residential communities (as very many community residents will have no requirement for care) some communities do offer private care services, usually through outsourced providers with whom residents may arrange assistance or support privately.

People considering moving to a retirement village will very often be looking to downsize a family home from which their children have flown the nest, and to free themselves of responsibility for maintaining the fabric of a large house or looking after its garden. A retirement village offers this kind of low-maintenance living, with the majority of concerns for upkeep taken care of for you.

Whether single or in a couple, people considering a retirement  village are usually attracted to the idea of a well cared for place to live, with excellent facilities on hand, where they will be able to live alongside people at a similar life stage, and very probably of similar outlook, with whom they may share interests and be able to build new friendships to add to the pleasure of everyday living.

They will also like knowing they’ll be able to take pride in hosting family and friends, and will be able to set out to enjoy the world in their retirement knowing that their retirement home in the community is waiting for them to return to.

How retirement communities and care homes work financially.

Care homes are for the most part privately operated. Residents pay a fee to live in the home and enjoy the support provided by its staff and facilities. In some situations, residents may receive financial support towards the cost of living in their care home from their local authority.

From a financial perspective, living in a Retirement Community is much more like living in any other home that you own.

People deciding to move to a retirement community will either purchase their property outright, or may rent it from the community operator, just as they would from any other private landlord. They will pay a regular ‘community’ fee to the community operator to cover the shared costs involved in maintaining the site and grounds and facilities, including providing staffing for these. Council tax, fuel and other amenity charges usually remain the responsibility of each resident, just as when living in any home of your own.

Santhem Residences. An outstanding example of a retirement community.

Our own Santhem Residences, at Shenfield in Essex, is an excellent example of a high quality retirement community.

Santhem comprises a variety of one and two-bedroom apartments and penthouses sitting within beautiful, secure grounds. Each apartment is designed to meet both the current and potential future needs of residents, and finished to the very highest standards.

As a retirement village, Santhem is a perfect place to welcome friends and family, or even to have grandchildren to stay. There are exceptional amenities, including our delightful The Fable restaurant, a bar, beauty salon, coffee lounge, library, wellness centre and cinema.

Retirement village v care home. How do I choose?

The choice between a retirement village and a care home makes itself, in most cases. If a person’s health or faculties are declining to the point at which it is no longer safe or practical for them to live alone, then it’s sensible to explore care homes further as an option.

If, in contrast, you are well able to enjoy life to the full but simply wish to make things easier and more comfortable with a view to enjoying many years of active life ahead, then a retirement community, like Santhem, could be perfect.

If you’re considering buying a home at Santhem Residences, please get in touch using the button below.

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