Meeting the needs of the baby boomers

THIS year, the first of the baby boomers will celebrate their 55th birthdays.

Retirement is in the not-too-distant future for Australia’s post-War generation and they are set to bring a new list of demands to those in the aged care and retirement housing industry.

Healthy, wealthy and almost free of their 2.4 children, this generation will be looking for much more than a villa next to a lawn bowling green in which to spend their golden years.

Royal Australian Air Force Association chief executive officer Bob Bunney said the baby boomer generation would be looking for a resort lifestyle that was secure, independent and connected to the world, in an institution that can provide them with on-site care if and when required.

“The days of the double brick house on a quarter acre block are gone and people are now making lifestyle choices and then deciding where to live, rather than the other way around,” Mr Bunney said.

The number of seniors in Western Australia is predicted to more than double from 260,000 to 548,000 over the next 20 years, putting retirement accommodation in high demand.

But not just any retirement accommo-dation.

“It’s no longer appropriate to develop a retirement village purely because you’ve got a couple of hectares of land in the middle of a development that’s going to take too long to sell as residential blocks,” Mr Bunney said.

“A retirement village should be no more than 450 metres from shops, medical facilities and transport. If these facilities are not that accessible, put them in as part of the village development.

“Important planning factors also include quality and variety in landscape and architectural design, individual homes with a street address and orientation of villages to the ‘outside’ world for integration with the community.”

Shared facilities, including swimming pools and restaurants, housekeeping services for the home and garden and personal care services also will be in high demand.

These principles have been applied by Southern Cross WA Aged Care and BGC in the construction of a new $35 million retirement village. Southern Cross chief executive officer Stuart Flynn said the Southern Cross Village at Success was ideally located.

“It is close to Perth’s central business district, Fremantle and Armadale and to major road and rail links,” Mr Flynn said.

“The village is next to the Gateway Shopping Centre and the proposed Thomson’s Lake city centre, there are nearby recreation, health care and other facilities, including the St John of God Hospital at Murdoch.”

The baby boomers also are going to be more demanding about the type of medical and care facilities available at their village, according to Brightwater Care Group chief executive officer Dr Penny Flett.

To meet their demands, Dr Flett said the government would have to step in and give some capital funding to retirement and aged care accommodation developers to build more facilities able to provide a high level of care.

“There is an increasing groundswell of discontent with the government over the fact that there is no capital funding available,” Dr Flett said.

“The current funding only allows for care to be provided in an existing facility – there is no scope for the near future.

“A future where over a quarter of our population will be older and far more demanding in their choice for care… this is only 20 years away and we must start planning seriously for it now.

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