Retirement Village Living

Mar 15, 2022 | General Financial Planning News, News

There are a number of factors to consider when making a decision regarding your future home. Careful thought needs to be given as to what is important to you in your retirement years.

These are some of the key considerations when assessing the different options and what questions to ask to make the most informed decision.

6 Key Factors To Consider

1. Management

A good retirement facility/home should:

  • Have an experienced, qualified manager who provides good leadership
  • Have knowledgeable, experienced staff
  • Have low staff turnover and enough staff on duty during the day and night

When visiting the facility, take note of the following:

  • Are the reception/front desk staff friendly and well-informed?
  • Do there seem to be enough general staff on duty?
  • Do they speak your language?

Questions to Ask:

  1. How many staff are on duty – during the day/at night/at weekends?
  2. How long have the staff and manager been there/what is the turnover of staff and managers?

2. Location & Surroundings

A good retirement village/home should:

  • Be somewhere that family, friends and current residents would recommend or would consider living themselves.

When visiting the facility, take note of the following:

  • Is it easy for family and friends to get there?
  • Is there anywhere to park? For yourself & visitors.
  • Do the cottages have garages and if so, are they integrated with the cottage?
    Is the area noisy or quiet?
  • Do the grounds and buildings look well-maintained?

Questions to Ask:

  1. What local amenities are there and how can you get to them e.g., shops, church, park etc?
  2. Does the home provide transport? What is it used for and how often is it available?

3. Buildings & Communal Areas

A good retirement facility should:

  • Welcome visitors at all times (Covid dependant!)
  • Be clean & well-maintained
  • Make you feel safe and protected but give you as much freedom as possible to do what you want to do, whatever your needs.

When visiting the facility, take note of the following:

  • Are the communal areas clean and inviting?
  • Is there a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere that is welcoming to residents & visitors?
  • Are there pleasant/inviting spaces throughout?
  • Are the gardens attractive and well-maintained?
  • Are there sporting facilities available e.g., swimming pool, croquet lawn, bowling green etc
  • Can you visualise yourself using these facilities?

Questions to Ask?

  1. Are there visiting hours or can guests come and go as they please? Can your visitors stay overnight? If yes, is there a cost involved?
  2. Are the communal lounge facilities with or without TV?
    1. If yes, do they have a full DSTV package? What are the rules around watching TV in the communal areas?
  3. Are all areas safe and accessible for both able-bodied and otherwise?
  4. What are the security arrangements?
  5. How does security alert residents of visitors?

4. My Cottage/Apartment

A good retirement facility should:

  • Have well-maintained cottages/apartments

When visiting the facility, take note of the following:

  • Are the cottages/apartments/rooms well-maintained?
  • Is there storage space?
  • How far is it from the cottage to the main centre?
  • In the case of a room, are there private/en-suite toilet facilities?
  • Is there an emergency call system and is it easy to reach?
  • Consider the implications of life right versus share block versus sectional title.

Questions to Ask?

1. If considering a room within a retirement facility

  • Can you bring your own furniture?
  • Can you decorate your room?
  • Where can you keep valuables? Is there a safe?
  • Does the home’s insurance policy cover your possessions?
  • Do you have a private bathroom?
  • Can you have your own phone with a separate number?
  • Is there internet access? Do you have to pay extra for this?

2. If considering a cottage or apartment within a retirement facility.

  • To what extent can you decorate your cottage/apartment?
  • Does the home’s insurance policy cover your possessions?
  • Who is responsible for cottage maintenance?
  • Can you change accommodation later if a better one becomes available or you need to downscale? What is the process
  • for this? How long is the waiting list?

5. Daily Life

A good retirement facility should:

  • Have a full and interesting range of activities on offer
  • Provide access to newspapers, books, the internet
  • Celebrate special events

When visiting the facility, take note of the following:

  • Do the residents look happy and interested in what is going on around them? Is there laughter and conversation?
  • Are the staff interacting with the residents?
  • Can the furniture be rearranged easily to allow people to socialise?

Questions to Ask?

  1. What social activities are there? Are there exercise classes? Outings?
  2. Can visitors stay for a meal?
  3. Is there a pub/café for morning coffee?
  4. Who does the catering? Can you see a sample menu? Do they cater for special diets? Is there a choice of menu? Do all
  5. meals need to be taken in the dining room or do they deliver to cottages/rooms? Are meals included in the levy?
  6. Can you bring a pet? Can you replace your pet when he/she dies?
  7. How can you practise your religion/faith?

6. Healthcare

The time may come when you may need to make use of some form of healthcare. The type of healthcare available to residents is an important consideration when choosing your future home. Some retirement facilities have an onsite frail care facility which you may eventually need.

When visiting the retirement facility, take note of the following:

What health care is available to residents living independently in cottages/apartments?

  • Independent Living
  • Assisted Living
  • Frail care


  • Can residents choose to have a carer in their own home as opposed to being moved to a frail care or assisted living facility?
  • If yes, can residents bring in their own carer or is a carer appointed by the village?
  • Are qualified sisters on duty daily? Do they visit cottages and is there a daily clinic? Are there qualified sisters on night duty in addition to carers?

If there is a frail care facility available, the staff should:

  • Know your health needs and keep your care plans up to date
  • There should be a matron in charge and qualified sisters.

When visiting frail care, take note of the following:

  • Are the staff attentive and caring – particularly if a resident is unwell or distressed?
  • Are the toilets accessible in all parts of the care home?
  • Does the home have specially equipped bathrooms to cater for frail residents?
  • Is it wheelchair accessible throughout and are there adaptations – such as handrails – in halls & corridors?

Questions to Ask:

  1. How do they assess residents’ care needs before moving in?
  2. Are there any disorders/diseases that they are not equipped to deal with/or will not accept?
  3. Does each resident have their own personal care plan and how is it reviewed?
  4. What qualifications do the nursing staff have? Do they have any special training/experience e.g., in dementia care?
  5. Do they use agency staff and if so, how often?
  6. How do they support residents who have difficulty seeing or hearing?
  7. How do they support residents living with dementia?
  8. What medical help is available? How would they get you to hospital/GP? Is the village linked to a medical response unit? Will someone accompany you? Do you have to pay extra for this?
  9. What access is there to other health services e.g., a physiotherapist, dentist, optician? Do they visit? How often? How much does it cost?
  10. Can special care needs be met even at night?
  11. Can residents choose to have a male or female carer?
  12. Living within the frail care unit:
  13. How flexible is the daily routine? Can you get up and go to bed when you like?
  14. Can you make snacks and drinks for yourself?
  15. Can you choose whether and how often to have a bath or shower?
  16. Can you come and go as you please?
  17. Is privacy respected? Can you lock your room?
  18. What support do they offer for end of life care?

Need Advice?

For more assistance on this topic, please contact either Toni Tickton or Susan Gardiner, Wellness Advisors for more information.