Helping a community come together – a shining beacon of retirement living

Specialist housing schemes for older people are often described as retirement villages, but at Bromford we prefer to think of our retirement living schemes as having a village hall at their heart.

Think of any village hall and you’ll no doubt conjure up images of exercise classes, Yoga sessions, craft fairs, weddings, book clubs, birthday parties, computer classes and art clubs, among many other things.

And all of these activities take place in just one single multi-use room. With the arrangement of a few tables, the addition of some yoga mats or artist’s easels, the room is transformed. It’s this flexibility of the available space that has proved such a successful formula in the good old village hall that we’re recreating in our retirement living schemes.

Rather than having lots of separate, specialist, single use spaces that are expensive to build and often underused, we’ve drawn on the idea of a traditional village hall. The hub of community life it’s a space that can be reconfigured to facilitate all sorts of activities that appeal to a wider audience and allow people to meet up more easily and get involved in organising things that appeal to them.

Our retirement living homes offer all the high quality, thoughtful features you’d expect, but we think that our focus on the importance of relationships between people is what really sets us apart. We focus on recognising that we all have skills and talents and deciding to move into a retirement living scheme doesn’t mean that you lose your passions, your drive and your ambitions to get involved in the things you enjoy. We have some great examples of customers organising their own activities including:

  • Men’s Den – this group was set up around a year ago by David at Beacon Park Village, in Lichfield in Staffordshire, to encourage men to come together weekly to play darts and board games. Around 20 people get involved every week, paying ‘subs’ that go towards organising day trips and putting things on at the village.
  • Knitter Natter has been running at Beacon Park Village in for eight years and was set up by Judy and Barbara, who has now sadly passed away but her legacy lives on with this group of ladies who come together to put the world to rights while knitting.  There are more than 20 people that attend every week including people from the local community and they all pay ‘subs’ to attend and then the money is used for a Christmas party at Beacon Park Village …they also put some of the money aside and go out for a yearly meal together at Christmas time. 
  • Beacon Court customer, Jamie, holds regular quiz and bingo nights for the rest of the customers at the scheme. He organises, runs and promotes these events himself and really enjoys doing this and is a huge part of the community at Beacon Court. All the money raised is then used towards the Christmas party at Beacon Court which all of the customers, their families and the local community enjoy.

We’ve recognised that in the past we’ve taken it upon ourselves to be the ones organising events that we thought people would like. But we’re finding that by giving all of our customers the opportunity to contribute more, people now feel a part of something. And the village hall set-up creates the perfect ‘bumping-space’ for our customers to meet up and get to know each other better.

As with our approach across everything we do, we see ourselves as connectors and facilitators. And with a selection of new retirement living schemes in the pipeline, it’s not about us ‘doing’ for people, we’re simply here to help our communities to come together, to look out for each other, to understand each other, and to recognise that they all have something to contribute, not only within our retirement living homes, but throughout the local community too.

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Posted on by Caroline Attwood FRSA

An excellent idea - and quite right about allowing the customers to select their own activities and develop them. "Prescribing" what people can do tends to limit capabilities.

Posted on by sheila eaton

I have now lived in a retirement village for fifteen months and agree with the comments. There is a lot of talent about in retired people and it makes sense to use it. Here residents do volunteer work - helping in the village shop, gym, organising activities and events. They also help in classes to improve the life of Residents with dementia.
Until three years ago I was dead against retirement villages, however from day one my husband and I have loved it here and have not misssed the family home of forty three years once!!!

We are both more active and involved in the community - volunteering, playing bowls and dancing etc. without having to travel distances.

A further comment - i do not like the word customer when referring to Residents.

I am aware it is becoming the current jargon - but most residents do not like it!!

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