Open door policy in senior housing ‘brings the outside in’

Author: Nicol Dynes, Real Asset Media

In the fast-evolving senior living sector there is an ongoing debate about the separation of independent residences from care homes and medical facilities, delegates heard at Real Asset Media´s Senior Housing and Healthcare investment briefing, which took place online on the REALX.Global platform recently.

¨Seniors who are healthy and wealthy want to live in a pleasant resort, use the swimming pool, play tennis and golf and lead an active life,¨ said Erol Riza, managing director, Mithra Capital Advisors.

¨They also want the reassurance that if something happens to them they can move into accommodation with some kind of assistance. But they don´t want the medical or dementia wing under the same roof.”

What is needed is a continuum of care, from independent living to assisted living to care homes, to cater for people´s needs as they arise. The question is how to go about it in practice.

Different solutions are being explored. In Canada, Origin has a building with independent living on one side and a separate but connected wing for dementia patients.

¨It is important to be in the same building because often in a couple you have one person who is self-sufficient and the other with dementia,¨ said Krystof Jacunski, CEO, president of the board, founder, Origin Polska.¨There is a very discreet, invisible combination so that husband and wife can still be together even if one of them needs assistance and the other does not.”

Healthy people want sports facilities, not a nursing home next door

Healthy people do not like to live next to a nursing home, he said, and they want wellness and sports facilities so they can take care of themselves and lead good quality lives for longer. But they also want to know they can have immediate assistance when they need it, which is not something the state sector can always provide.

A similar debate is happening about whether discretion or openness should prevail in senior residences.

¨We have an open door policy in our residences because we believe in bringing outside life in,¨ said Thibault Sartini, CEO, cluster new countries, Orpea Group. ¨Even office workers can come and eat in our restaurants, which is good for everyone.¨

Special units can be kept separate, but it is positive for independent seniors to maintain their lifestyle as much as possible after they retire. Studies show that keeping physically and socially active can slow down early stage dementia, giving people an extra lease of quality life.

¨We should not hide people away when they are no longer 100% healthy,¨ said Laura de Wit, CEO, president of the board, founder, Miller White Group. ¨It is a worrying tendency that we should combat.”