Lichfield Retirement Village

The Society entertained no fewer than three guest speakers at its November meeting to update us on progress with the newly opened Retirement Village. Darrin Gamble and Julie Heithus represented the site owner, HomeZone Housing, and Jenny Faulkner, Extra Care, the Charitable Trust responsible for the management of the Village and hence the residents' care and support.

Darrin and Julie took as well attended meeting through the history of the site, from conception to completion. They explained how, working with partners including the local authorities, Extra Care and the Primary Care Trusts, the existing site had been transformed from poor quality sheltered housing to a state of the art Retirement Village with a full range of support services and community facilities.

The village has 135 apartments, some for sale, some shared ownership and the remainder to let. Eighty-six have one bedroom, but the remainder have either two or three, all being to a high specification and wheelchair accessible. Only four apartments remained available at the end of October. In addition, the village offers a comprehensive range of facilities, including a restaurant, health and fitness studio, craft and work rooms, hairdressers, shop, IT suite and library.

Darrin and Julie explained that HomeZone operates an allocations policy designed to ensure that the village community is as balanced as possible, as between age and level of care support required. The age threshold is sixty, but fifty-five for those with a care need. Currently, forty-five residents have a care need and this is where Jenny took up the story, explaining the role of Extra Care.

Extra Care manages the day to day running of the village. Where necessary, it works with the County Council's Social Services Department in assessing an individual's needs and then preparing a support plan, sourcing financial grants if required. They provide on site support 24 hours a day, including nurse care, together with a wellbeing centre and, for the more active, a gym instructor.The village residents have a strong say in how the village is managed through residents groups, whilst a number of activity groups have already been established.

As the UK population as a whole continues to age, so we need as a nation to find new, innovative ways of ensuring that older people can enjoy their independence within the community for as long as is practically possible. The Lichfield Retirement Village successfully strikes a balance between those crucial issues of support and independence and will be a model for new villages elsewhere.

Roger Hockney
November 2005