Julian Cook (left) with sales manager Steven Garner in one of the care apartments.
By Jannette Thompson
The head of NZ’s third largest aged care provider, Summerset, says retirement villages are one way of addressing Auckland’s housing crisis, but Auckland Council has been slow to embrace the idea.
While visiting the Summerset Village in Warkworth on April 5, chief executive Julian Cook said Summerset was currently building an apartment complex at Ellerslie covering 3.5 hectares.
“As a result, 18-hectares of housing will be released for family housing and/or development,” he said. “There’s a housing crisis and we’re chomping at the bit to get started, but unfortunately these delays from Council are slowing development. It’s not an ideal situation.”
Meanwhile, the final stage in the development of the Summerset Village in Warkworth is underway. A block of 36 care apartments will open in June and a resource consent has been lodged for 77 independent living villas on 2.4 hectares in Mansel Drive, adjoining the existing village, fronting Woodcocks Road.
“We have a waiting list and we’d like to be opening the first of those villas sometime next year,” sales manager Steven Garner said.
The final village will consist of 200 independent living villas and 44 care apartments, as well as the 24-hour on-call support, rest home and hospital level care.
Mr Cook says the rapid growth in retirement villages was not surprising.
In 2013, a quarter of a million people were aged over 75 years; by 2031 that figure was expected to be closer to half a million and it would reach one million by 2065.
There had also been a change in attitude towards aged care facilities. In 1999, five per cent of New Zealanders aged 75 years and over lived in an aged care facility – now that figure was around 13 per cent.
Mr Cook believed the emergence of villages such as Summerset had played a big role in breaking down the stigma associated with aged care facilities.
“Around eighty per cent of the residents in Warkworth come from the local area or have an association with the area. This is really important because it means people can age in a place that they are familiar with, where the full continuum of care is offered.”