New retirees entering the property market are increasingly looking for options that support both their desire to continue living independently, and their potential future needs for healthcare.
Retirement villages can provide residents with an invaluable sense of community, along with the necessary practicalities such as 24-hour security, high-speed internet, and cleaning services. On-site healthcare, however, is available at only a few establishments.
People now live longer than previously, which means that a new set of health issues is emerging in the senior population. Frail care is not something many new retirees need to think about immediately, but because more and more families live at a distance or commit to small-scale urban living that cannot accommodate seniors, it is an important factor to consider when choosing a lifestyle retirement option.
A 2017 property report placed two Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA) retirement villages among the top 10 South African retirement estates, based on factors such as design, space, maintenance, activities and facilities. Among CPOA’s most attractive features is easily its on-site healthcare centres.
CEO Michael Zipp says that this is one of CPOA’s core competencies: ‘Whether or not residents need the care centre upon moving in, they know that there are always emergency response services available day or night, and that is obviously a big advantage.’
CPOA manages 26 villages with a total of 2,300 residents. Twenty of its villages are available to middle and higher income groups for life right, sectional title or long-term rental options. This income subsidises the remaining six homes, which are welfare establishments.
Each CPOA village offers a different lifestyle. For example, Quadrant Gardens in Claremont, which CPOA is developing in partnership with Corevest (Pty) Ltd, will be an upmarket urban retirement complex that will cater for seniors who enjoy the urban lifestyle of the area, and want to remain close to familiar medical service providers and surrounding attractions.
‘New retirees are accustomed to having amenities close by, and enjoy going to the movies or the gym, and many also want to remain economically active to some extent,’ says Zipp. ‘And because land in Cape Town is very expensive, this means that apartment-style retirement living is becoming more popular.’ Quadrant Gardens will offer assisted care packages, and its care centre will be able to accommodate residents who need 24-hour care.
When complete, the Somerset Lifestyle & Retirement Village, one of the estates ranked among South Africa’s top 10, will have a 20-bed care centre, and 270 units for independent living. These will be a mix of houses, cottages and apartments. Some seniors want to leave more money in their estates, and others prefer more money available to them for the duration of their life. Therefore, The Somerset residents are given a choice between freehold or life right options.
The life right model offers security of tenure for life and improved financial peace of mind. With this model, 100% of the original capital is refunded when the resident sells or passes away, but part of the capital growth on resale is forfeited. There is less upfront investment because ownership of the property does not change, which means that it is cheaper and easier to complete the transaction. ‘With the life right option, CPOA takes care of all external maintenance and repairs, gardening and general tidiness,’ explains Zipp. ‘It’s hassle free for the resident.’
Depending on the scheme, CPOA offers a profit share of up to 25%. For example, no profit share is offered at the more popular and established homes, such as Constantia Place, another of the top 10 estates in South Africa, and which has a long waiting list. However, at The Somerset Lifestyle & Retirement Village, residents are living on a site that is still under development, and therefore they are offered a 25% profit share. Purchase terms are flexible. For example, part of the purchase price can be deferred and then deducted from the refund later on.
CPOA offers a number of care packages, with the on-site care centres being the operational hubs for these services. Zipp says that people want to try to remain independent and in their usual environment for as long as they can, so care starts with nurses or caregivers visiting the residents’ home to assist with activities of daily living, for example, getting dressed or making beds. As residents need more assistance, their care packages can change.
Because people now live longer, there are also increasing incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This means that care centres need to be able to take care of people’s mental health on a 24-hour basis. Depending on the stage of the illness and and the nature of their symptoms, residents suffering from dementia may need to be cared for separately. CPOA provides specially trained caregivers, and offers dedicated memory care in five of their homes. They also organise special, appropriate activities that provide social interaction and stimulation, and promote overall well-being.
The newly opened Memory Care Centre at Sea Point Place, for example, dedicates 14 of the 40 beds to residents with dementia. ‘It’s a stunning facility,’ says Zipp. ‘We did a lot of research into the special needs of dementia patients to make sure that we can look after them well.’ Sea Point Place is an upmarket sea-front village in Three Anchor Bay that offers both long-term rental and life right apartments, with a profit share of 15% on the life right option. It provides a weekly domestic service and laundry facilities, and has a hairdresser, coffee shop and library on site.
Zipp says that often the move into a retirement facility is triggered by the death of a spouse, couples needing to downsize, or their children moving to live far away. He says: ‘Retirees don’t want to become isolated; they want to remain active in a community. That’s what we provide, a sense of community, a sense of belonging.’
The villages organise regular activities for their residents, such as music therapy and visits from friendly animals. ‘We now have a brand new concept that we call the Intergenerational Care Concept,’ says Zipp. ‘There’s a lot of existing research that speaks to the vast benefits of intergenerational activities for both children and seniors. Seniors can volunteer to engage with the children, for example, by reading them stories or participating in arts and crafts. The children benefit from enhanced social development, and the seniors from improved overall physical and mental health.’
The organisation was approached by a play school in Claremont, and decided to pilot the concept of having classes within one of its homes. Zipp says it’s wonderful to see residents interact with children, and they have noticed improvements, especially with dementia and frail care residents. The organisation is considering rolling out the concept at its other villages.
A few CPOA homes are pet-friendly. Residents in ground-floor apartments or standalone units can keep small pets, for example at Harfield Village. Says cat-owner Zipp: ‘We even have some facilities that have resident dogs or cats cruising around. It’s nice to see how our residents are so excited to see them.’
Each of the homes has a management committee that reports to CPOA head office about its day-to-day operations, covering everything from food quality to maintenance issues because, assures Zipp, ‘you want to make sure that the needs of all the residents are looked after.’
‘Sixty-five years ago, we started as a charity organisation, providing retirement facilities for people who couldn’t afford otherwise,’ Zipp explains. ‘It was a private initiative and wasn’t funded by government. We established “stock” when homes were donated to us and we were asked to manage them. Government came in at a later stage with subsidies and guidelines when we developed frail care facilities in the Cape Flats and Observatory.’
The organisation then created an economic component to cross-subsidise its welfare component, developing villages aimed at the middle to higher income sector. Over the years the economic component grew, and now the organisation has a different client group in the upmarket sector. Says Zipp: ‘There is a lot of competition in this sector and that is good because you have to come up with new products and make sure you are always at the top of your game and in tune with the needs of contemporary retirees.’
Zipp says that it is difficult to manage both a welfare and economic sector within a single organisation, but CPOA has experienced staff and a strong balance sheet, and all its residents trust that they are being looked after financially and otherwise. He says: ‘We are conservative, we don’t want to stretch ourselves, and we focus on quality projects over quantity.’
CPOA’s welfare budget is about R25 million per year, after subsidies. It takes care of about 600 people in its welfare homes, and the demand is growing. It is now in discussion about a concept for a new 100-bed care centre in Khayelitsha, working in partnership with Ikamva Labantu, which offers home-based care in the area. Home-based care is working well, but there are many people who reach a point when they need to go into 24-hour frail care. CPOA is offering to fund half the capital expenditure for the care centre and contribute to operational costs, but government support and partnerships will be needed for the concept to be implemented.
CPOA was started by volunteers, and volunteers still play an important role in both the welfare and economic homes.
‘We could never function effectively without all of our dedicated volunteers from both the private and corporate sectors,’ says Zipp