Getting older and scaling down does not mean your world has to get smaller. You don’t have to choose between security and style, between community and independence. You can have it all.
If you’re thinking of buying a retirement home either for yourself or a parent, you know that the one sure way to raise the blood pressure of any potential retiree is to make decisions for them – to take away their agency – because that is taking away their independence. ‘Every person has certain preferences, and we therefore offer a wide variety of options to fit each person’s unique needs,’ says Jan Pienaar, CEO of Groenkloof Developments.
The runaway success of the first two developments enabled Groenkloof to develop their flagship 176-unit Groenkloof Village on the edge of the George CBD, which forms the heart of an expanding series of adjacent and interconnected villages. Groenkloof Rif consists of 42 large plots with houses that would not look out of place in Bishopscourt, Houghton or Kloof. You’ve missed the boat on this one, but Groenkloof Glen, where the plots are larger than standard, still has about 20% of the plots available. The 380-unit Groenkloof Woods (with about 200 units still available) is still under construction, and then many look forward to the 500-unit Groenkloof Eden and the 140-unit Groenkloof Gardens to be developed soon.
While it’s clear there is a wide range of options when it comes to house size – from modest one-bedroom, one-study, one-bathroom units with a cute, manageable patch of garden (priced from R997,000) to an 800-square-metre mansion with extensive grounds and views for ever – the freedom of choice does not stop there.
Most retirement villages offer either full title or life right models – and there are good arguments for both – so at Groenkloof you can decide which best suits your financial and family circumstances. ‘Life right usually costs about 30% less than full title,’ Pienaar says. ‘And just over half are sold on life right – primarily because of the price. The levies and monthly costs are the same regardless.’
While choice is important, what the Groenkloof model is about is care. In fact, it’s care that motivates the decision to offer choice. Groenkloof is designed around empowering and enabling people to live really full lives. And that does not mean just socialising or keeping busy – it’s about feeling useful. Actually, no – not feeling useful, being useful. Woodworking, metalworking, pottery, art studios, baking and home industries are some of the facilities to enable residents to continue existing interests and/or develop new skills. The restaurant and home industry shop, which is still under construction, will include a large, industrial-spec, communal kitchen in which residents can bake and cook together. With the potential for socialising and creativity combined with the opportunity to earn a few extra rand, this is such a no-brainer win-win idea it’s astonishing that it’s not a standard feature in all retirement villages.
Because people can move in once they turn 50, there are a good number of very active residents who take full advantage of the estates gym facilities and covered heated pool. For those who would like to venture out, the Garden Route offers fabulous golf, surfing, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, birding, diving and trail running opportunities. The estate has ample parking for caravans and boats, and it’s not unusual to see some pretty impressive motorcycles parked in the driveways.
Each person who moves to Groenkloof is an individual with his or her own history, likes, dislikes, skills and interests, which the developers try to accommodate as far as possible.
CARING ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
All houses have solar geysers and rainwater harvesting as standard and, at Eden, there will be a communal veggie garden, which will offer a great way to socialise, produce something useful, save money and reduce your carbon footprint – another win-win.
Of course, while the emphasis is on healthy, happy, active ageing, burying your head in the sand won’t make the inevitable go away, and some people will become less able to look after themselves as they get older. So that’s why one of the first things to be built was the 94-bed care unit with its 75 assisted living flats, which includes a large sub-acute facility. It’s also the first private institution in South Africa with a palliative care licence. Home-based care is provided on a limited basis, but is currently being expanded, and will be available for residents who choose not to go into the frail care, which is particularly important for couples who would not want to be separated just when one of them is most in need.
‘Care is very important,’ says Pienaar. ‘Statistics say only 13% of buyers in retirement villages make use of frail care. But what about the other 87%? Say, for example, you’ve been married for 60 years and you pass away. What happens then? The surviving spouse needs care – not medical care necessarily – but care that helps every resident at the exact stage of his or her need. So, we have a care manager who is dedicated to providing emotional care, counselling and guidance for residents and their families’
All residents have an interactive panic button that is linked to the central control system of the care unit. And – hey – how’s this for clever? Groenkloof has partnered with Eden911 whose operational team’s headquarters are on site, meaning that the ambulance is on site when it is not on an active call.
COST OF CARE, AND CARING ABOUT COST
The frail care, sub-acute and palliative care centre is open to nonresidents as well as residents, but owners – both full title and life right – get preferential treatment when it comes to admission, and also get a 20% discount on the fees. And – this is a huge issue with retirement estates – the levies are a mere R705 per month, and include all Homeowners Association functions, security, panic button response and basic primary healthcare (checking blood pressure, etc.).
Another advantage of Groenkloof’s flexibility of ownership is that more than 50% of the units are sold as life right, so the developer keeps control of the care unit, thus keeping it affordable, and ensuring that no exploitation of vulnerable residents by third parties will take place. Full frail care for Groenkloof Owners starts at R10,250 per month. A large part of caring is realising that – particularly for retirees – money can be tight, so the emphasis is on good value for money, and keeping costs down without compromising on quality and services. Groenkloof has designed its own DStv package with 72 channels – all the sport and all the movies and documentaries – at a cost of R378.20 per month. All houses are equipped with intercoms and optic fibre (but not Groot Brak and Reebok – yet), and a optic fibre landline for R50 per month with free internal calls. Balanced three-course lunches, which can be delivered or eaten in the restaurant, are available on a daily basis. Vegetarian and other special diets can be accommodated.
CARING ABOUT QUALITY
‘Do it right, and you will automatically make money,’ says Pienaar. ‘But don’t do it primarily for making money. That doesn’t work.’ He emphasises this fact by espousing his philosophy on construction methods and materials: ‘We build the cheapest way ever – by doing it right the first time!’
And, finally, with a big smile, he shares his dream and vision: ‘We want to be the best.’
He then thinks a while, and adds: ‘And affordable.’
‘And sustainably affordable.’