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Understanding the different living options in retirement villages

At a glance

Most retirement villages offer three different living options: independent living, assisted living, and accommodation within care homes.

Below is an overview of each living option to help you understand the difference and make an informed decision.

Independent living

As the term suggests, ‘independent living’ refers to any type of home within a retirement village where you can live completely independently. Residents in independent living accommodation may request certain in-home support services if they wish, but these are optional extras, not part of the accommodation package.

Benefits of independent living:

  • Retain complete independence and privacy.
  • Live life your way, opting for as much or a little socialisation as you wish.
  • Choose from a variety of home sizes and layouts, including villas, townhouses, and apartments.
  • Enjoy close proximity to onsite facilities.
  • Homes are specifically designed for people in retirement — they are low-maintenance and commonly fitted with emergency call buttons.

Assisted living

The term ‘assisted living’ refers to accommodation that includes in-home support for those who need help with activities such as meal preparation, housekeeping, and personal care. Assisted living is a bridge between independent living and care home accommodation. Most assisted living homes are apartments, but some villages offer assisted living within other types of accommodation, such as villas or townhouses.

Benefits of assisted living

  • Receive support with day-to-day activities such as meal preparation, housekeeping, and personal care, from the comfort of your own home.
  • Enjoy close proximity to village facilities (most assisted living homes are located centrally within a village).
  • Stay living as independently as possible, including with a partner, while receiving support tailored to your individual needs.
  • Your home is your own — keep your own furniture, add your favourite personal touches, and enjoy privacy when you need it.

Care homes

Care homes provide accommodation and care for individuals who have been assessed as unable to live independently and require assistance with daily activities and specific health or personal care needs.

Commonly known as rest homes, care is provided at four different levels – rest home, hospital, dementia and psychogeriatric. Most people (84 per cent) receive either rest home or hospital care. Those who qualify for rest home care have fewer complex needs and don’t require such intensive support. Those in hospital, dementia or psychogeriatric care have more complex needs and require a higher level of support.

Regulated by the Ministry of Health, care homes in New Zealand must adhere to specific standards and guidelines to ensure the provision of high-quality care. These facilities have trained staff members, including healthcare professionals such as registered nurses, caregivers, and support workers, who cater to the individual needs of residents.

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