9 March 2022
Retirement Villages: The race to keep up!
The Retirement Villages Association says the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted an increase in the numbers of older people wanting to move into retirement villages.
It says the benefits of safety have proved appealing to both older people and to their families who are worried about them.
The executive director of the Retirement Villages Association, John Collyns, says this process had started since the first lockdown in early 2020.
And this happened even though retirement villages put people close together into communities when they earlier lived in separate homes.
John says people still felt safer.
“Villages are very good at making sure their residents are protected,” he says.
“During Alert Level Four, the gates were closed, and there were people on the gates to make sure that unauthorised people did not come in.
“If you lived in your home, with other people on the other side of the fence, you, or you and your spouse, were basically there by yourself.”
John adds retirement villages were used to handling epidemics such as norovirus.
This pressure from older people comes as the retirement village sector is racing to catch up with growing demand.
“Most villages have a waiting list, sometimes years long, and that demand is driving construction,” John says.
He adds an annual survey on retirement village construction rates is underway, but he says usually, there are a couple of thousand units built every year.
“We know that there are something like 114 existing villages that are expanding and 18 or so brand new villages at various stages of design and construction.”
In some cases, retirement villages have sprung up quickly, but in others, the process has been slowed by lengthy resource consent hearings.
John says his organisation is working with the Government on current reforms of the Resource Management Act in the hope of streamlining this process.
It is also having meetings with multiple councils on their consenting processes.
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John says only a minority of older New Zealanders live in retirement villages, but with demographic changes, a lot more construction would be needed just to keep up with its current share.
“We are going to have to build the number of units we are building today, every year for the next 15 years or so, to be able to cope with the expected growth in demand.
“And that would be just to maintain a 14.3 percent of market share of the over 75s.
“And that number has risen in the past eight years from about 9 percent of the over 75s.”