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Community Life and Independence Key to Ageing Well

Community  Life and Independence Key to Ageing Well

Inchmarlo provides flexibility of care and support to its residents

According to Age UK, there are nearly 12 million people aged 65 and over living in the UK. Of these, 5.4 million are aged 75 and over and 1.6 million are aged 85 and over.

The “Later Life in the UK” 2019 factsheet (updated in May) also states that, additionally, there are 500,000 people aged 90 and over and some 14,430 centenarians.

It is predicted that, in the next 20 years, the number of individuals with complex care needs will continue to increase – and, as the population ages, the need for care will intensify and the care needs of individuals will become more complex.

For these reasons, and others, it is becoming increasingly common for people to take the lead in planning for their own future care. They look for long-term and cost-efficient solutions which offer minimum disruption and maximum comfort, security and value for money. Such support also gives confidence to family members who may live some distance away.

Some 33 years ago, Inchmarlo Retirement Village was created by local entrepreneur Professor Charles P. Skene and business partner Dr Norman Cooper, who realised a then pioneering idea to bring the concept of continuing care for the elderly to Scotland for the first time. They visited existing care developments in America, Germany and Australia, then pooled knowledge gained to set about creating something entirely new for the area.

The purchase of Inchmarlo House and 100 acres of land near Banchory on Royal Deeside was soon followed by the creation of the 41-home development at Queen Victoria Park. The ethos of creating the right environment, however, extended beyond the homes themselves and RHS Chelsea Flower Show award-winner Peter Rogers was commissioned to design Queen Victoria Park’s centrepiece oriental garden, complete with a karesansui (dry stream).

As people’s needs have evolved over the years, so too have house styles and designs. Whilst the original development focused primarily on flats, subsequent projects have brought a broader range of properties including detached homes on more than one level – some with four bedrooms and two bathrooms – and others which offer home owners their own garden.

The most recent development is Pinecrest, a development of 12 two-bedroomed, south-facing detached bungalows, which feature a separate study with the potential to be utilised as a third bedroom for a live-in carer, should that be required. All properties in the latest development comprise over 1,000 square feet of living space, and include garages and
private driveways.

In 2012 Charles Skene was honoured to be inducted into the “Global Hall of Fame as the pioneer of the continuous care retirement community in the UK” and again in 2015 into the “UK Hall of Fame as the most outstanding contributor to the creation of the continuous care retirement community healthcare model in the UK”. Both awards were presented at events in London with care providers from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries receiving awards for different aspects of the over-50s housing sector.

Even more recently The Sunday Times article “The Best Places to Find your Perfect Retirement Home” stated: “Inchmarlo Retirement Village is one of the first and still one of the best in the UK. Buyers from all over the country have been moving in here since 1986, confident that they will be able to stay as long as they need.”

Charles Skene says: “Home owners own their properties outright and can then choose to bring in additional care as and when required. For example, all houses have a call system which summons on-site assistance and homeowners can opt to have freshly cooked meals delivered from the main house and take part in as many or as few community activities as they wish.

“If there is a need for residential care, our home owners get priority admission to the care home in Inchmarlo House. However, less than a third of our care home residents come from the estate because our main priority is to help people to live in their own homes for as long as possible – at considerable savings of around £30,000 a year when compared to a permanent move to a care home.”

“At Inchmarlo we help people live independently for longer and, if and when the time does come for a move into our care home for respite or permanently, the transition is often easier because they are remaining in a familiar setting with familiar faces.

“Research has shown that there is a complex relationship between loneliness and mental health problems such as depression, where the two can feed into each other. Additionally, recent research from the University of Chicago suggests that the physical effects of isolation are twice as bad for health as obesity, pushing blood pressure into the danger zone for heart attacks or strokes, and increasing the risk of early death. Community living, such as that offered at Inchmarlo Retirement Village, can be beneficial in helping to address some of these issues.

“It is reported that living beyond 100 years may be more routine in the future and, if these forecasts are correct, there will be enormous challenges in manpower and finance to cope with the expansion of our ageing population.

“We cannot escape the fact that people are living longer: my grandfather died in his 70s which was considered to be old and I am still working full-time even although I am over 80. The challenge lies in how we can create the correct environment for people to flourish in their later years, safe in the knowledge that their care and support is tailored for them as an individual and I believe that is the greatest strength of Inchmarlo Retirement Village.”