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Castle View: The powerful effect of independent living

"We don’t celebrate maturity, we don’t celebrate wisdom," commented actress Kirsten Scott Thomas (almost 60) recently in an interview with The Telegraph Magazine – but that’s exactly what happens at Castle View, the new retirement village that has opened recently in Windsor.

“Our approach is to treat everyone as an individual – be they single or part of a couple,” says Robin Hughes, CEO of Castle View and the man responsible for designing and building the new independent retirement village. Residents at Castle View purchase their own homes where there are 64 apartments starting in price from £375,000.

Now gaining in popularity and springing up across the country, retirement villages are seen as an excellent way to look after our ageing population while providing a really good lifestyle throughout later life.

Villages generally provide a range of apartments for purchase and are designed for those aged 55 plus to live as independently as they want, with care and support close at hand should it ever be needed. These homes usually have one or two bedrooms and include a shower room/bathroom and a kitchen, with central facilities such as a restaurant, café, bar, library etc, with social events and activities arranged for the residents. Castle View in Windsor

“In my experience, retirement-age residents want a secure home with good basic services, plus the availability of affordable care should it ever be required,” says Robin. As with where they used to live, they want to be next to like-minded people, but are not expecting continuous cruise ship-style entertainment or unnecessary interference in their lives. 

“Today’s retired are fiercely independent and want to do their own thing without the intervention or support from others for as long as possible. At the same time, their ‘grown-up’ children live where their work is, often at some distance from their parents or even overseas, and so the idea of care being provided by the family or even just helping-out is less likely, while the concept of the granny annexe is increasingly being consigned to history.

“Independent living in a retirement village is a ‘win-win’ for the person living there and their family who can be safe in the knowledge that their mum or dad is getting on with their life yet surrounded by kindred spirits and a caring team of staff keeping an eye out for them to ensure they are well, eating and drinking properly and generally looked after,” adds Robin.

“But this older generation is also becoming increasingly discerning, and people won’t move anywhere that doesn’t meet their exacting demands, which includes being able to pursue their preferred lifestyle. Keeping fit, staying busy, active and entertained is often central to this so having a cinema, theatre, library or sports centre nearby is essential. This means that an urban location is preferred over one in the country so you can walk to where you want to get to or take a short bus ride rather than getting the car out and all the cost and hassle that involves. Castle View is like a small village within the town of Windsor.”

Would you let your mother live there?

Most retirement villages have arrangements in place where care can be delivered to suit, or have a care home within the complex so convalescent or respite care can be quickly accessed and the partner easily visited.

Residents are also freed from the burden of worrying about looking after and paying for a large family home and garden they have long since grown out of.

The ultimate benchmark for any new retirement village is ‘would you let your mother live there’ and would she be happy? Robin’s own mum, Betty, moved to Castle View 15 months ago and is very content, comfortable, living independently and enjoying many new friendships, and all at the age of 86.

“We must do everything to encourage the older generation to remain independent for as long as possible and out of long term care to avoid becoming institutionalised, unless it is absolutely needed,” says Robin. “The highly beneficial effect of sociability helps counter loneliness, while having activities and events on tap stimulates the mind, all of which leads to a longer more fulfilling life, and a reduced burden on the NHS.”

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