• Danny Brookes

Five Emerging Trends for the Post-Covid Retirement Village

It probably goes without saying that in this new era of global virus transmission, consumers are being forced to change their behaviour in quite pronounced ways. The pressure to maintain physical distance and minimise unnecessary travel continues to have a big impact on our lives not only in terms of work, but also shopping, education, wellbeing, medical attention and of course our social lives.

The lockdowns have in many ways catalysed the growth of businesses that provide online services, as we look to fulfil as much of our daily routines from home as possible.

In the context of Australia’s Retirement Villages, home to many of our older generations, adapting to these changing social realities is going to be a challenge for some – and an opportunity for others.

How future villages position themselves in the coming months and years is going to have a big effect on marketability and future growth.

How will villages respond to future resident concerns when launching new developments? How can global awareness of viral transmission help inform a new generation of facility design principles? And how can digital platforms create new opportunities for villages to enhance their residents’ lives?

Here, we outline five possible scenarios for the post-Covid Retirement Village that take some of these ideas into account.

Catering for Health and Wellness

If there is one thing that the Covid outbreak has revealed, it is the importance of maintaining healthy and hygienic environments.

Not only are we increasingly aware of how sterilised surfaces and face masks can help reduce viral transmission, but also the importance of maintaining physical fitness, mental balance and a healthy immune system.

Even during the strictest of lockdowns, many countries still allowed their citizens time to leave their house for daily exercise, knowing that this is a major contributor to human wellbeing.

Providing advice on healthy diet management, access to personal or group physical training, or even workshops in yoga, pilates and meditation, may be simple ways to demonstrate duty of care and encourage residents to take charge of their wellbeing.

Renovating for hygiene (and peace of mind)

With the global viral outbreak, we have all become increasingly aware of just how easy it is to come into contact with potentially-contaminated surfaces.

Designing or renovating facilities to include as many hands-free features as possible is going to be a major selling point for future developments.

These may include sensor-activated fixtures such as automatic or foot-activated doors, hands-free bathroom wares, as well as touch-free electronic payment devices.

Facility managers will need to ensure that many public surfaces are regularly cleaned, that partitions and screens are installed in prominent service areas, and alcohol-based hand sanitiser is available in busier public zones.

In addition to helping reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria, these measures will also help provide peace of mind to residents.

Conquering loneliness

One of the side effects of social distancing is the possibility that some village residents may become lonely or even depressed.

Having systems in place to ensure that staff are making regular check ups on residents will make a huge difference to the lives of the residents.

Villages should organise regular events for their residents to encourage new social encounters in a safe setting. These may take the form of game or film nights, cooking events, or even educational programs and group workshops.

Facilitating online shopping and home delivery

Some older residents may not be familiar with using many online tools with ease. In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, the range of mobile app and web services is impressive if not overwhelming. In the last ten years, we have seen incredible growth in this space, from online banking and wealth management, to grocery shopping and meal delivery, to socialising, education and digital entertainment.

Villages should be able to assist residents less confident in these technologies to learn and practice using these tools. This could take the form of group or one-on-one tutorials, or even more hands-on assistance by providing residents with individual help to manage home deliveries, for example.

Enhancing in-house village services

Is it possible for Retirement Villages to become even more self-contained? Providing further amenities and personalised services may make it easier for residents to spend more time at home and therefore less time in busier public environments.

Some examples of these services may range from in-house laundry and cleaning, to an in-house farmers market or group-organised grocery delivery, to an in-house medical service or dedicated visiting clinic.

Village managers may be able to establish and develop their own unique mobile or tablet app, enabling residents to connect with each other and provide broadcast of relevant local information. The app could also be developed to facilitate some of the services listed above, so that residents are able to organise many aspects of their daily lives from a single touchpoint.

The future is yet to be created

Although the current global pandemic may be cause for concern, it may also be the key to a new wave of village innovation. By reflecting on the customer experience and changing consumer expectations, new possibilities for service and product innovation are ready to be discovered.

Interested in developing your own Customer Experience Strategy? Mortar’s ‘Village Visioning Program’ is a unique 6-module program designed for the Retirement Village sector, helping leaders envisage long term project strategies in a guided format and presented online. You can learn more here, or get in touch and we will be happy to discuss the program further.

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Danny Brookes is Partner of Mortar CX with a background in Marketing, Innovation and Design



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