Retirement homes in the UK are transforming into family-friendly havens, luring residents with perks like free ice cream and activities for grandchildren. These changes are a response to the growing role grandparents play in childcare, helping their adult children manage financial and time burdens. The Daily Mail looked into this trend and how it’s reshaping retirement living.
Grandparents to the Rescue!
With the cost of living soaring and parents stretched thin, grandparents are stepping up in big ways. According to research by McCarthy Stone, a whopping 40% of grandparents and great-grandparents are now actively involved in childrearing duties. These responsibilities range from school pickups to homework help, meal provision, and even overnight stays. This shift is driving retirement developments to emphasise family-friendly amenities.
A New Approach to Retirement Living
Take the example of Annette and Keith Page, a couple in their 70s who chose Brio Retirement’s Beechwood Park in Gloucestershire. They bought a three-bedroom bungalow to be close to their grandchildren, ensuring ample space for visits. Keith highlights the convenience of having a restaurant on-site and a hobby room for creative activities with the kids. This arrangement not only strengthens family bonds but also eases the financial strain of childcare for their working children.
Beyond Traditional Boundaries
Beechwood Park, where properties start at £340,000 and rentals at £2,711 a month, isn’t the only place adapting. Rangeford’s Wadswick Green village near Bath offers child-friendly menus and a chlorine-free swimming pool, catering to the needs of younger visitors. Residents like David and Gillian Little enjoy frequent visits from their teenage grandchildren, taking advantage of the facilities for dining, swimming, and playing games like croquet and table tennis.
Howard Nankivell, Rangeford’s CEO, emphasises the importance of family in their retirement communities. They organise events for residents, families, and the wider community, including games, craft markets, pizza parties for children, and tea evenings.
More Than Just Living Spaces
Wildernesse House in Sevenoaks, Kent, part of Elysian Residences, offers unique events like the Teddy Bears’ Picnic, complete with free ice cream, entertainers, and various games. These initiatives aim to create a vibrant, intergenerational community atmosphere.
The Emotional Anchor
A study by Inspired Villages highlights the emotional significance of grandparents, especially for Generation Z (16 to 26-year-olds). They are more likely to turn to their grandparents when feeling sad or anxious, compared to siblings or teachers.
A Two-Way Street
The support isn’t just one-way. For instance, Christine Holdsworth, 75, a widow living in McCarthy Stone’s Cranberry Court in Peterborough, finds reciprocal care in her relationship with her teenage grandchildren. Her grandson Thomas, 14, not only has his own room at her apartment but also assists her with technology and physical mobility. This interdependence fosters a nurturing environment for all generations involved.
The evolving landscape of retirement homes in the UK reflects a deeper societal change. These developments are not just places to live; they’re communities where families can connect, support each other, and thrive together. It’s a heartwarming trend that benefits everyone involved, from the youngest grandchild to the eldest grandparent.