Why it is just as important for retirement development to welcome children as well as retirees BY JANE SLADE
The lunchtime menu at Wadswick Green retirement village in Wiltshire includes sausage and mash with beans and chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. But this isn’t for the residents, it’s for their grandchildren.
Children’s menus are just one initiative to making retirement villages more attractive, as operators realise that facilities have to appeal to youngsters so they will want to come and visit grandma and grandpa.
“Our restaurant caters for children’s tastes with a fun menu and non-alcoholic cocktails which allows children to feel grown up with granny,” says chief executive Richard Williams.
Just as well as one resident, Marilyn McGee, 82, has 13 grandchildren who are regular visitors.
“The key to encouraging grandchildren to visit is to make staying with granny and grandad feel like a holiday,” he adds.
The events manager at Lifecare Residences’ London retirement village, Battersea Place, not only solicits movie requests from visiting grandchildren but provides little bags of popcorn during showings in the cinema.
Retired businesswoman Anne Hobson, 78, moved from Fulham to a two-bedroom apartment at Battersea Place a year ago because she thought her grandchildren would be happy visiting her there. “I always had my grandchildren in mind before I bought,” she said. “I wanted there to be facilities they could enjoy.”
Anne, a widow, has four grandchildren and has looked after her grandson Alfred, 14, and granddaughter Jemima, 12, during the school holidays since the death of their mother, her daughter, two years ago.
“Alfred, loves the billiard room and Jemima, and I are often in the craft room making pictures and birthday cards,” she says. “I love having them to stay while their father is working. And they love coming here. We also like swimming in the lovely indoor pool. And now they have got to know other residents’ grandchildren so it is a very sociable community.”
It seems grandchildren of all ages and tastes need to be catered for. Joan Golding, 89, moved to Anchor’s flagship scheme Bishopstoke Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire, two and a half years ago, and has grandsons aged between 22 and 25.
“My family has always enjoyed visiting me here,” she says. “They love using the pool, the spa and the gymnasium. However, the highlight is dinner at the on-site restaurant, which is up to the standards of my fashionable grandchildren.”
Bishopstoke Park comprises 91 independent-living apartments and an onsite care home. A second phase is underway of a further 73 one-and-two-beds.
Facilities include a swimming pool, spa and wellness centre, juice bar, delicatessen, general store and craft room.
“We understand how important it is to make our developments family friendly,” says Howard Nankivell, Housing Operations Director at Anchor. “Grandchildren are an important part of many of our residents’ lives. We know that a significant proportion of prospective purchasers will be considering the suitability of our new developments as somewhere that younger relatives will enjoy visiting.”
Joyce Howes, 72, moved to Renaissance Villages’ Millbrook Village in Exeter in April to be closer to her son and his family.
“My youngest grandson is 11 and has enjoyed coming swimming with me in the on-site pool and playing snooker in the clubhouse,” she says.
“Although he’s still a bit young, when he is confident travelling to my apartment from school on his own, I expect I will be able to help with giving him his dinner and supervising homework. With both his parents working full time, having granny on the doorstep can prove very helpful.”
Millbrook Village has a restaurant, bar, cinema, gym, swimming pool, library, coffee shop, snooker room, activity room.
Beechcroft which has developments for the over 55s in Surrey, Sussex, Oxfordshire and Kent, offers buyers private gardens which make ideal play spaces for grandchildren. Some 50 per cent of Beechcroft buyers move to be closer to their families.
One beds at Wadswick Green from £265,000 www.wadswickgreen.co.uk
One beds at Bishopstoke Park from £239,000 www.anchor.org.uk
One beds at Battersea Place priced from £600,000 www.lifecareresidences.co.uk
Millbrook Village has 164 properties from £334,950 www.millbrookvillage.co.uk