When making new living arrangements for an aging relative, or planning your own retirement, there is often a fine balance to be struck between the desire for independence, and the need for support.
Many older people remain healthy and mobile enough to live in their own homes, rather than in residential care, and value the advantages of doing so.
But at the same time, they feel vulnerable. What if they have a fall, or are taken ill suddenly? Who could help them in an emergency?
There may also be problems with housekeeping, or running errands. While someone may be perfectly capable of looking after themselves, they may find some aspects of housework awkward. If they do not have their own transport, shopping and picking up prescriptions can also be difficult.
Isolation is another factor. While enjoying many aspects of independent living, older people sometimes wish they had more company. This is particularly difficult if they have recently lost their partner, and have no family living nearby.
A care agency, or private care provider, can be useful in practical ways. But this is no substitute for knowing there is someone to call on, day or night, to help out in a crisis.
One person who understands these issues very well is Solomon Singh.
He has been involved in building and running nursing homes and retirement complexes for elderly people in North Devon for more than 20 years.
As a result, he is very sympathetic to the interests and concerns of older people and their relatives. He believes that for those who do not need full residential care, the ideal solution is good quality assisted living apartments.
“A lot of people just need a bit of basic help and a ‘guardian angel’,” he said. “They are looking for a safe environment and the reassurance that someone is around in an emergency.”
But what exactly are assisted living apartments? How does assisted living work; what services does it provide? What does the accommodation look like – is it an attractive, spacious living environment? Is it furnished, or can people bring their own possessions? And, how much do assisted living apartments cost?
Many of the answers can be found by looking at Mr Singh’s latest project, Hatchmoor Apartments. These are eight stylish, spacious, self-contained flats, located on the floor above the Hatchmoor Nursing Home, on the outskirts of Great Torrington.
In these apartments, older people can enjoy an independent lifestyle, while benefiting from a range of support services. This includes three meals a day and daily help with the housekeeping, a minibus service into Great Torrington every weekday for shopping, running errands and organised day trips and a concierge service. Residents also have the sense of security that comes with having a warden on duty 24 hours a day, and an emergency alarm system.
While Hatchmoor Apartments does not offer personal care such as help with washing and dressing, there are local providers who can be booked to come in.
The apartments can be rented furnished or unfurnished.
They have en suite bathrooms and kitchenettes, and there is unlimited free Wi-Fi.
The building is set in landscaped grounds, with a sensory garden and vegetable plots. Residents who are keen on healthy living can exercise out of doors and help grow the fresh produce.
Residents also benefit from a social life. There is a large communal dining and lounge area, so that they can eat meals together if they wish.
There are group activities, too, and organised trips out.
“Hatchmoor Apartments would suit people who are still capable of looking after themselves, but need some help with cooking, cleaning, laundry and so on,” said Mr Singh. “They may have had one or two falls, and become worried about being on their own. They also want a social life, but not at a fast pace.
“In many ways, Hatchmoor Apartments is like a luxurious hotel. Life there is relaxed, happy and friendly, with a family feel.”
The weekly rent of Hatchmoor Apartments is £295 per week unfurnished or £325 furnished, both fully inclusive of all bills apart from telephone.
For further information visit www.hatchmoorapartments.co.uk Hatchmoor Common Lane, Great Torrington, North Devon EX38 7AT Telephone 01805 625721.