Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a retirement village or community and a care home? This is a question we often hear, whether from those already enjoying their retirement, trying to make retirement plans, or from individuals making arrangements for family members. Fortunately, our experts from Santhem Residences’ luxury retirement community are on hand to explain.

Interior view of Santhem Residences luxury retirement apartments.

While care homes and retirement properties may sound similar, the difference between them is fundamental.

So, what is a care home?

A care home is a type of residential facility run either by a private operator or a local authority. For the most part, care homes provide safe, comfortable, and supported living for elderly people who no longer wish to continue living alone. That being said, they are also occasionally used for others needing a similar type of care.

While not all residents of a care home require the same degree of support, a range of community facilities will usually be available for the use of residents. This tends to include a dining room and entertainment facilities, as well as access to various social events.

Care homes are staffed by carers who are trained to assist residents with medication and other procedures necessary to maintain their wellbeing. Some care homes also offer additional healthcare services. For instance, these could include physiotherapy or emergency doctors, usually on a private basis.

In general, a care home works in collaboration with the resident, their family, their doctor, and possibly a local authority. This ensures the resident is able to live comfortably, happily, and safely. For the family of an elderly care home resident, this can be very reassuring, relieving the concern over whether an aging parent is safe.

How is this different from a retirement village?

A retirement village, sometimes also referred to as a retirement community, is a different story entirely.

Retirement villages are private property developments managed exclusively to meet the needs of the over 55 age group. This means there’s much more of a focus on independent retirement living, while a service charge is paid by leaseholders to meet the cost of services provided.

Retirement villages offer independent flats or bungalows together with a range of social facilities, sport and leisure facilities, and retail outlets. Sometimes they will also include high levels of care and support that can be adapted to residents’ needs. The larger scale of retirement villages allows for the provision of facilities and care services that would not be viable in smaller developments. Schemes may offer properties to buy, to rent, or on a shared ownership basis, or alternatively a mixture of all three. The range of facilities and services available vary significantly between providers.

Why choose a retirement village over a care home?

For people in their mid-fifties upwards, retirement villages can offer a number of benefits. Both the way they’re managed and the services available are designed to provide easy, enjoyable, and comfortable living.

As well as offering accommodation for one, two, or more, retirement communities will usually have first class leisure facilities. For instance, this might include:

  • Gyms
  • Pools
  • Tennis courts
  • Yoga studios
  • Restaurantsand bars

Retirement villages will also usually offer well lit, secure parking, and the entire community will generally be served 24 hours a day by a security team.

What care services are available in a retirement community?

Some retirement villages work with a home care provider to employ care workers for their residents, though this service will come at an additional cost. Alternatively, retirement villages may have a care team onsite to provide care services at an additional cost. Meanwhile in some, individuals can privately hire care workers from a home care company of their choosing. How much care you want is entirely up to your individual needs and wishes.

At Santhem, we have our Care and Wellbeing team onsite, though you can choose to privately hire domiciliary care workers from an outside provider if you prefer.

So, who should consider moving into a retirement village?

People considering moving to a retirement village will often be looking to downsize a family home after their children have flown the nest. This frees them from the responsibility of maintaining a large house or looking after its garden. A retirement village offers this kind of low-maintenance living with the majority of concerns for upkeep taken care of for you.

One of the biggest appeals of a retirement village is the idea of a well-cared for place to live, and with excellent facilities on hand. Residents will be able to live alongside people at a similar life stage and very probably of similar outlook. They may also share interests and be able to build new friendships to add to the pleasure of everyday living.

They will also like knowing they’ll be able to take pride in hosting family and friends, and will be able to set out to enjoy the world in their retirement knowing that their retirement home in the community is waiting for them to return to.

How retirement communities and care homes work financially

Care homes are for the most part privately operated. Residents pay a fee to live in the home and enjoy the support provided by its staff and facilities. In some situations, residents may receive financial support towards the cost of living in their care home from their local authority.

From a financial perspective, on the other hand, living in a retirement property is much like living in any other home. Those moving to a retirement community will either purchase their property outright or rent it from the community operator, just as they would from any other private landlord. They will also pay a regular ‘community’ fee to cover shared costs involved in maintaining the site, grounds, and facilities, as well as staffing. Council tax, fuel, and other amenity charges usually remain the responsibility of each resident too.

Santhem Residences – an outstanding example of retirement living

Santhem Residences, in Shenfield, Essex, is an excellent example of a high-quality retirement community.

Santhem Residences comprises a variety of one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as penthouses, sitting within our beautiful and secure grounds. Each apartment is designed to meet both the current and potential needs of residents and is finished to the very highest standards.

As a retirement village, Santhem Residences is a perfect place to welcome friends and family, or even to have grandchildren to stay. There are exceptional amenities, including our delightful The Fable restaurant, a bar, beauty salon, coffee lounge, library, wellness centre, and even a cinema.

How do I choose between a retirement village or care home?

In most cases, the choice between a retirement village and a care home will make itself.

If a person’s health or faculties are declining to the point it is no longer practical to live alone, then it’s sensible to explore care homes further. If, in contrast, you are able to enjoy life to the full but simply wish to make things easier and more comfortable, a retirement community like Santhem could be perfect.

Are you considering moving to our luxury retirement village? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss this further. You can also view all our available properties online, or browse our FAQs for answers to any questions.