Round and About magazine 01 March 2021

Community life

A recent report has found ‘overwhelming evidence’ that living in community benefits people in later life to maintain health, independence and reduce the level of support needed as they age.

Research carried out by the King’s Fund and the University of York looked at the value of retirement communities on the wellbeing of the people who live in them, and on the health and social care system in the UK. The findings showed comprehensive and conclusive evidence that the retirement community model plays a vital role in supporting people in later life to live well for longer.

Retirement communities, often referred to as assisted living or retirement villages, combine self-contained quality accommodation with tailored support services. This includes onsite dining and leisure facilities – for example a restaurant or café, hair salon, wellness suite, resident lounges and gardens; optional care and support packages and regular events programme to encourage social interaction and natural friendships to form.

The research found that the provision of care, meals and support on-site played a significant role in maintaining the wellbeing of residents. Furthermore, the evidence suggests a lowering of the levels of depression, feelings of isolation and anxiety, and helped to reduce the likelihood of falls and hospital admissions.


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Loneliness, as a result of social isolation, is now one of the most serious public health concerns facing older people, with reported fall rates rising 36-42% higher than those with social contact. Social distancing measures has made it more difficult to rely on the same level of human closeness and support that would normally have been available from family and friends. Retirement communities have tackled loneliness and isolation by creating opportunities for residents to participate in activities and events that interest them or develop and explore new skills in the company of liked-minded people even during the pandemic.

Birchgrove’s Queensgate Apartment is a retirement community in Sidcup, Kent. It provides modern and spacious 1, 2 and 3 bed self-contained apartments for people in later life who want to continue living independently in their own home, but with assistance and support available should they need it. Agnes recently moved into Queensgate Apartments and told us:

“My house was rather magnificent – I never thought I’d leave it, but it just got too much for me to cope with and I wouldn’t have been able to watch it slide into rack and ruin.

“I had a pacemaker fitted a few years ago and that, coupled with a series of falls more recently, led me to decide the time had come to move on. I’m very independent and very much do my own thing. I wanted something different, a place where I could stay in control and keep my independence.