We had a chat about retirement life with Muhammed Syed, Business Manager for St Andrews Village.
The first thing he illustrated was the important point that most people are living longer and therefore spend more years in retirement.
“When they finish working they might still have 40 years to live” he states.
“This means that retirement villages play an important role across Australia.”
St Andrews Village is “an initiative of St Andrews (Presbyterian) Church to serve the community.”
It came together thanks to a voluntary board made up of senior members of the church.
Significantly, they have three main building complexes with different living arrangements.
The 30 independent living federation-style townhouses were opened in Hughes back in 1991. In 1993 they opened a 62-bed hostel for elderly residents requiring that level of care. It is called Harrison House Northside.
Harrison House was then extended with another 40 beds from 1997. The final stage was John Flynn House, completed in July 2009. It added a 74 low-care beds to the total.
This makes St Andrews bigger than most retirement villages, with over 200 residents living either independently or with the level of care that they require.
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Another of Muhammed’s observations was the lack of government support for this sector.
“There are organisations like COTA who provide some help, which is good, but it’s not hands-on help”, which is what he feels elderly people need plenty more of.
He also highlights the point that “The only people who can afford to buy (into) retirement villages are the ones who own a house”.
He believes that a solution needs to come from the government for the people who do not have one to sell.
To finish on a positive note, those who do move into St Andrews benefit from things like social activities, included maintenance, cheap meals delivered or in the dining hall if they want, and organised trips to local places of interest in the village’s own bus.