Two large areas on the northern side of Cambridge are being transformed from bare land into large retirement villages. Both will be surrounded on their borders by large housing areas, most of them new. One will be close to a large medical centre yet to be built.
Cambridge appears to be an attractor for such enterprises and these new facilities will bring the number of formal commercial retirement villages to six. In total they could house in excess of 1000 people over 65 years of age. The villages will come with modern ‘care’ centres catering for high-standard (and relatively high-cost) three tier facilities including dementia wings.
Those people will constitute about five per cents of the town’s overall population. This essentially will see Cambridge – on a per capita basis – with the highest retirement village population density in the country. The town needs to be aware of as the social mix in the community takes on a new hue. It brings with it employment opportunities in a town where far too many of employable age depart each morning to earn their crust elsewhere, increasing the carbon footprint on the highway to (mainly) Hamilton.
In my time on the executive of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce I was always aware that we had a high factor of ‘employment leak’ so these ventures are very welcome for the socio-economic wellbeing of the town.
Take Lauriston Park for example. Their new 64 room care facility will open formally on June 8. It will possibly host 60 or so staff in roles that did not exist before. The Ryman and Summerset ventures, in their formative stages, will later also have high-standard care facilities on the traditional three-tier pattern.
Take care not to mix retirement villages with rest homes. They are two separate industries with the latter, sadly, generally suffering from lack of staff – or rather the ability to pay professional workers due to an ongoing friction with the government as to the proportion of ‘health’ subsidy that should be in place.
The degree of ageing in New Zealand is almost alarming. The statistics for those over 65 will perceive a steeper graph as the years roll out ahead. Those unable to look after themselves will require a degree of professional care which is not dependent on what used to be district health boards.
Reverting to retirement villages – they will make their own entertainment. They are well run generally, although the recent announcement from the Commerce Commission indicates that there is a perception with regard to the Fair Trading Act that warrants a closer look at these highly commercial – and, in many cases, highly financially successful – ventures.
But note that those in excess of 1000 good people will be utilising the supermarkets, pharmacies, cafes and other Cambridge-centric commercial ventures, lifting the town’s perceived wealth even higher.
I declare an interest – I have been a resident of one of the retirement villages for over 12 years and have never regretted making the move.