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New Design Will Change Lives for the Elderly

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Remember that old saying respect your elders? Well we should really remember that when we think about housing for the elderly. All too often, senior Australians are placed in aged-care homes where they sometimes don’t get treated too well or they live in retirement villages on the fringes of town.

Our elderly shouldn’t be pushed aside and out of the way. They should be honoured. And sometimes you need more than attitude change to make this happen. Recently, Sydney architect Brent Marvin has come up with the perfect housing plan for the elderly.

He believes the future should be centred around integrated retirement living – a hybrid of living at home, but part of a community, all powered by tech.

Alternatively, they’re moved to lonely Truman Show-style retirement villages which are built on the isolated fringes of towns where land is cheaper for developers.

“We don’t want them isolated or alone, without company and connections. We want to allow them to live in a retirement village with low-care available on site if needed, but still be an integral part of already established communities with links to outside people, clubs and shops,” Says Brent.

After years of designing units for the elderly for developers, Mr Marvin felt he could see clearly what was working and what, most definitely, was not. He thinks small groups of villas for independent living close together so they can share services like carers and nurses, but still be close important transport, services and leisure activities, around people of all ages – not tucked away, out of sight, out of mind.

He now has a development application before the local council in the NSW Southern Highlands for Woodside, close to the centre of the village of Bundanoon, with the first stage of the development consisting of 32 two and three-bedroom villas, with more to come at the other stages.

Brett’s firm is very excited at the prospect of creating this retirement village model and it’s something they don’t believe has ever been done before. They’re hopeful that it will be a model, which can be replicated all around the country.

The homes in the complex will all be connected via specially designed new technology that links residents to local businesses and clubs, providing them with free membership. It also enables residents to set up their own groups, organise outings and receive special offers from the local butcher or 10-per-cent-off-drinks evenings for seniors at the pub.

It’s a great way older people can remain as part of the community with technology to facilitate connections and it’s exciting many people. The Wingecarribee Shire Council is thrilled with the proposal, as the area has an ageing population.

“Older people want to downsize, but they still want to be a part of the wider community,” says Mark Pepping, the council’s deputy general manager of corporate, strategy and development services

“People need to stay in touch, and we’ve seen that particularly through the last months of the pandemic. So, we have to adapt with new ways of getting services delivered and helping people keep in touch with their friends and family and the outside communities.

“They need to be able to live in a way that will allow them to be resilient now, and to whatever may come up in the future.

“They want to be able to get help if they need it but still be self-sufficient in their own environment where they can quarantine themselves if need be, rather than being in an institution or nursing home where they can’t.”

The technology for the retirement village has been developed by ResVu, which produces management software for residential communities. The tech has been developed with an emphasis on ease of use and has been tested with the staff’s own grandparents. Think easy to read text, big buttons and easy to navigate devices.

It all sounds very promising and is exciting for a generation that have had a tougher year than most of us. You think your COVID lock-down has been hard. Imagine worrying about going to the supermarket for the fear that you may contract a fatal illness. Mindlessly scrolling through Tik Tok isn’t so bad. Here’s to more great ideas that help people. Especially our elderly, they always deserve our respect.


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