Whiteley Village plans expansion for additional 150 people as waiting list for longer life grows longer!
Women residents of Whiteley Village in Walton on Thames – a retirement community for people of limited financial means – enjoy a longevity boost of up to 5 years compared to the general population, research has shown.
With demand for accommodation at Whiteley Village at its highest and a wait-list of over one year, the Whiteley Village Trust is now applying for planning to build an additional 62 almshouses, a new care hub providing an extra 30 care suites, and extra care flats. If approved, the planning will enable an extra 150 older people in desperate need of accommodation to live at Whiteley.
Run by The Whiteley Homes Trust (Charity Patron: HRH the Prince of Wales), in 2017 Whiteley Village celebrates 100 years of providing housing, care and support for retired people of limited means. The village is home to around 500 residents ranging in age from 65-106, the majority of whom live independently in almshouses, with additional support available to meet people’s changing needs over time, with extra-care apartments, a residential home and a nursing home. Most residents rely on housing benefit to pay the cost of renting their accommodation. In many cases the Whiteley Homes Trust subsidises those whose accommodation and care needs are not fully met by the state.
Chandra McGowan, Chief Executive of The Whiteley Homes Trust comments: “For 100 years, Whiteley Village has supported older people to live as independently as possible. Our one-stop-shop solution brings together suitable accommodation and care on one site, and this enables our residents to live independently for longer.
“Our strength of community is a key driver to the longevity boost identified by the research from Cass Business School. Every day we see our residents helping each other and this inter-dependence is very important to everyone’s well-being. People living at Whiteley Village tell us they feel safe, connected and cared for, underpinned by the security of having their ‘own home’. For many this removes a huge amount of anxiety given their housing situation prior to arrival. The Whiteley example provides positive insight into much needed proactive solutions for our ageing society.”
Analysing 100 years’ worth of residents’ records, the Cass findings suggest that Whiteley Village sets a good example of how retirement village living is capable of combating the negative effects on health and social well-being, especially when it comes to low economic means and isolation. This approach could help in the Government’s aim to reduce mortality inequalities amongst lower socio-economic groups.
Professor Les Mayhew, Professor of Statistics at Cass Business School, said: “It is well established that people classified as having a low socio-economic status tend to have a lower life expectancy than the average member of the population, but instead we found the opposite at Whiteley. One of our main results is that we show that female residents actually receive a longevity boost from retirement village life, and that life expectancy for males reaches a similar level to that of the general population.
“The undoubted lesson of Whiteley is that it is possible to create a socially stimulating and safe environment in which older people can enjoy a longer retirement in peace and comfort compared to that experienced by individuals of similar backgrounds in the general population.”
In the UK the population over age 65 is projected to increase by more than 40%, to over 16 million, during the next 17 years. With the population ageing so rapidly, finding ways in which the older population can live their later lives in relative health and comfort has become an increasingly important issue in the UK.
There is considerable interest in creating more retirement villages in the UK to offer housing and care for the increasing numbers of older people who are attracted to this type of retirement living. The benefits of communal living in later life – which include enhanced quality of life, reduced social isolation and greater independence – are of immense significance because of continuously rising cost pressures on health and social care.
This month sees the launch of The Whiteley Foundation for Ageing Well, as the Trust is keen to share what it has learned and invite collaboration from Government, policy makers, academics and commercial organisations to explore potential solutions for future policy on care, wellbeing, inequality and housing in later life.
To download a copy of the Press Release please click HERE.