Last November in my blog post Canadian Collaborations for an Aging World, I focused on the newly announced Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging. This integrated model is an example that brings together research, learning and actual living spaces for elders in a variety of options depending on their required needs. One of the partners in this endeavour is Schlegel Villages a company that for over forty years has been designing and building long-term care and retirement communities in Ontario.
Schlegel Villages’ plans for expansion continue over the next decade, which is no surprise, given the current trend in construction of such seniors housing and other variations of elder care facilities. What is innovative in the Schlegel case in Waterloo as described above is the opportunity for inter-generational connexion with, as they declare, a “social rather than institutional model of care.”
As I mentioned last week in my guest article for the Aging Matters Blog at Sheridan Centre for Elder Research, when I look at this rash of construction for senior living I wonder: how much are we inadvertently perpetuating social exclusion? This question got me poking around further, looking at among other items, what are the variations on senior living communities and how integrated are these models comparative to the Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging?
Starting on this research path, I quickly realized that this will be a longer journey worth exploring and in that process – hopefully, the observations will encourage more conversation with others over the coming months. The intent is to keep coming up with innovative, inter-generational feedback around the future of building age inclusive communities at large and these elder living spaces integrated within that context.
Awarding an Over 50’s Housing Market
As usual, I began by looking at the bigger picture of what a potential life would be for all of us in a longevity society. And as my natural bent is initially to serendipitous discovery, I found a humorous reality. The so-called “Seniors Housing” market is so big a business opportunity, diverse in its scope that there is even a global award winner event like the Oscars, slated for November this year in London, England; The Globals 2016: The Best in the World, Over 50’s Housing.
In some odd way, this discovery was a fun yet relevant place to start because you will see that there are nearly seventy categories in this market, variations on a theme so segmented as to be on a first brief read too hard to tackle. A few of the niched concepts for example were Virtual Retirement Communities (not what you might think), Mixed Generation Housing and Regeneration Housing and of course obvious categories like Golf Estate and Resort Parks.
What I find interesting about all this is figuring out where to draw the lines when they call this “Over 50”s”. There are so many distinctions let alone the mixed use of language and coded phrases to map out this market. Seniors for example. Whose age calculator are we using here to determine a senior? Over 50. Now there’s a wide open range to roam, to find a place to call a home! Some of the time on this life course, this housing market is about choosing a lifestyle, and some of the time it’s about facilitating health status and sometimes both.
For a mere £695 plus travel and hotel, you can make it to the awards night in London. This is the 18th year for this event. Who knew? I can only imagine that you would need to rent a tuxedo or evening gown for the red carpet. This is big business after all.
My hunch is that Schlegel Villages won’t be there but without knowing what category they could be nominated for, my vote would be for them under a category all on their own.