In Lifestyle on Friday 10th Sep, 2021

The retirement village that combines independent and assisted living alongside comprehensive aged care options

Sep 10, 2021
At Ryman Healthcare’s retirement villages, there’s an understanding community on hand and a strong culture of support. Image source: Ryman Healthcare

When you move to a retirement community, most people assume they’ll have the ability to age in place, through all types of health issues. But for many people this doesn’t turn out to be the case, being forced to move away from their partner when they require higher levels of care. It is a distressing and destabilising problem that retirement village operator, Ryman Healthcare is working hard to solve across Victoria and New Zealand.  And they want people to understand just how important it is to ask the important questions like the ability to age in place, when choosing a retirement village.

“What will happen if my health and care needs increase significantly?  Do you offer independent and assisted living as well as low, care, high care and specialist dementia care within the one village community?”

Ultimately, if you’d like to age in place, Ryman Healthcare recommend that you should consider looking for a more comprehensive service offering when considering a retirement community.

Aged care when you need it 

Ryman Healthcare’s retirement villages across Victoria provide comprehensive aged-care options including low care, high care, specialist dementia care, and respite care at each village, to cater to every individual’s needs. This means that if you or your partner need to move into, say, aged care, at some point, it can be as easy as relocating to the next floor of your apartment building.

Supportive culture

Having a comprehensive care offering on site means many residents at Ryman’s retirement villages are experiencing varying healthcare situations. As a result, you will find there’s an empathetic, understanding community on hand and a strong culture of support. If someone’s been unwell, or had a bereavement, fellow residents rally around them. “I do think there is care and concern because we’re in here for all sorts of reasons and I think that people do want everybody to enjoy the place and see it as home,” says Kath, who lives at the Weary Dunlop retirement village at Wheelers Hill.

Kath and husband Jim met Graham and Helen soon after moving into the village and became friends fast. When Helen moved into the village’s specialist dementia care unit – it was one of the toughest times in Graham’s life. During this period, Kath and Jim were a constant pillar of support for Graham, catching up with him for a quiet drink in the village lounge every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening, after Graham had visited Helen.

Graham says he doesn’t know how he would have coped with supporting Helen during her dementia and then her passing earlier this year if he hadn’t had Jim and Kath to lean on. “I think I would have struggled,” he says. “Going through that period of [Helen’s illness] you definitely need someone to back you up. It meant a hell of a lot because they were very supportive… Jim and Kath were there in spades.”

The fact that Ryman Healthcare villages provide comprehensive aged-care offering on site was also a big drawcard for Kath and Jim, but for slightly different reasons. “We didn’t want our daughters’ lives disrupted by having to look after us,” Jim explains. “I’ve seen it happen where someone has had to look after an elderly parent for 10 years, 15 years and I thought ‘no way’. We’ll be self-sufficient and they won’t have to worry about it. We’ve got carers here if we need them. That, to me, was a huge thing.”

“I just feel so much more social here,” village resident Kath says. Image source: Ryman Healthcare

But Jim and Kath weren’t just looking for a home with comprehensive aged care on site,, they were also looking for a community. Before moving to Ryman’s Weary Dunlop Village, they said they didn’t really talk to their neighbours and would experience days at home where they didn’t talk to anybody. “I just feel so much more social here [at the village],” Kath explains. “You walk out in the hallway and it’s ‘Hi Kath’, and you have a bit of a chat.”

And since moving, she says that life certainly hasn’t slowed down. “On the contrary, you sort of think, ‘where did the day go?’ Jim and I walk a lot, we’re both readers, we swim, we play table tennis, we like our music, we garden two mornings a week, and we go down to have a drink every so often at the lounge,” she says.

Lifestyle and wellbeing 

One of the great things about Ryman villages is that they offer plenty of lifestyle and wellbeing amenities including a swimming pool, bowling green and gym. There’s even a Ryman Triple A (Ageless, Active, Aware) complimentary exercise program, which encourages residents to stay active and keep moving.

Catering for all ability levels, the Triple A program aims to improve participants’ strength, balance and mobility. This also helps prevent falls and maintain independence. There are classes such as functional fitness and circuit, and a ‘sit and be fit’ class. The level of participation is up to you, but residents typically get involved at least twice a week, with many noticing significant gains in their overall wellbeing. It’s also a good opportunity to have a laugh and get to know other residents.

In addition to Ryman Triple A, there’s Ryman Engage, a complimentary activities program, which includes going on group bus trips, visiting exhibitions, joining one of the many interest groups, or simply sharing some baking at morning tea. A resident favourite is the complimentary Happy Hour at the lounge. Regular entertainers also perform for residents – and their relatives who come along too. The key is to provide something for everyone.

Independent living and serviced apartments

Ryman apartments and villas have everything you need. From the clean, modern lines and clever design layout to the tranquil village surrounds that make you feel like you’re on holiday with your own furniture – they’re the kind of homes you quickly fall in love with.

The serviced apartments come with additional support that makes life easier, including general housekeeping, gardening, maintenance and a chef-prepared meal every day. It’s great for you and reassuring for your family because they know you’re being looked after.

A Ryman Healthcare apartment at Weary Dunlop Village. Image source: Ryman Healthcare

A little history

Ryman Healthcare was co-founded by Kevin Hickman in 1983. An ex policeman turned private investigator; Kevin had walked into an old fire-damaged villa to investigate how the fire had started. The building an aged-care facility was, and Kevin didn’t like what he saw. “There were four people to a room, with shared toilets down the corridor. The people running the rest home were nice and did … as much as they were expected to. But, to me, it was crazy. The standards were so poor. But that’s how aged care were in those days.”

It started Kevin thinking about what the standard should be. “I thought, what would I want for Mum? I’d want a single room with an ensuite, for a start.” It was the opportunity Kevin and his business partner, accountant John Ryder, had been looking for – a business they could feel good about and believe in.

They soon found a block of two-bedroom flats which they converted into their first aged-care facility in 1996. In 2014, they opened their first Australian village – Weary Dunlop Retirement Village – at Wheelers Hill in Victoria. Nearly four decades on, Kevin says Ryman’s ethos hasn’t changed: “Everything we do must be good enough for Mum – or Dad.”

Locations around Victoria:

There are now 13 locations around Victoria, including:

  • Weary Dunlop (operational village in Wheelers Hill, Melbourne)
  • Nellie Melba (operational village in Brandon Park, Melbourne)
  • John Flynn (operational village in Burwood East, Melbourne)
  • Charles Brownlow (operational village in Geelong, VIC)
  • Deborah Cheetham (operational village in Ocean Grove, VIC)
  • Aberfeldie, Melbourne (under construction)
  • Ringwood East, Melbourne (under construction)
  • Highett, Melbourne (under construction)
  • Mt Eliza, Melbourne (planning stage)
  • Mt Martha (planning stage)
  • Essendon Terrace operated by Ryman
  • Essendon (planning stage)
  • Mulgrave (planning stage)

Ryman Healthcare prides itself on having very clear, easy-to-understand terms. What’s more, they have nine ‘Peace of Mind Guarantees’. Some of the benefits include the fact that the Deferred Management Fee is capped at 20 per cent, there’s a fixed base weekly fee, no hidden costs, no capital loss and a 90-day money-back guarantee, among other guarantees that bring you peace of mind.

Retire with peace of mind with Ryman Healthcare

From low to high care, Ryman provides comprehensive full care offering to cater to every individual’s needs. Learn how Ryman is pioneering a better way to retirement living in their free ‘Experience the Difference’ e-guide.

Learn more

Do you and your partner have - or expect to have - differing healthcare needs?

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