Chesterville Retirement Village is an independent living village located in Cheltenham, Victoria. The village is owned by the Southern Community Church of Christ, and has been in operation for over 30 years. 10 units were initially built by the Church, with an additional 40 constructed in the late seventies by Chesterville Retirement Village Nominees. In 2003, those 40 units were sold to the Church.
Regardless of faith, the Church is entirely committed to the welfare of Chesterville’s residents. Because the village was built with independent living in mind, the services that are provided are primarily in the nature of social activities, including a regular happy hour, film screenings, scrabble, snooker or pool, mah-jong, and a variety of crafts.
One of Chesterville’s greatest advantages is its convenient location. Situated just across the road from the Westfield Southland Shopping Centre, residents have quick access to a variety of services and amenities including cinemas, shops, and restaurants, as well as medical and dental facilities.
With close proximity to a police station, and a close community mindset, residents are confident that they are part of a safe, caring community at Chesterville. For added peace of mind, all houses are also equipped with a 24-hour personal alarm system.
Manager, Ken Ryall, takes pride in the level of satisfaction that Chesterville residents have expressed with the village, as seen by the growing number of referrals it has received. “Our residents are pretty happy,” he says. “We have a number of residents now who were encouraged to come into the village by existing residents.”
As a relatively small village, Chesterville has established close relationships with a small group of suppliers and maintenance workers. “They’ve almost become part of the village community because they’re around so much,” Ken says, “even though they’re independent contractors.” Chesterville has also been a member of the Retirement Village Association since the early years of the village’s establishment, and has remained actively involved in the new Retirement Living Council. “I attend the conferences and the professional development events that are held during the year,” Ryall continues. “We do our best to keep in touch with industry trends, and make sure we know what’s happening outside our own four walls.”
Ken feels that a growing issue facing the retirement village industry is the government’s current policies, which have been designed to keep retirees living in their own homes for as long as possible. “We have found that the effect of these policies is that people don’t even think about coming into a retirement village until around the 80 year mark,” Ryall says, noting a study carried out by another village, which has shown that their entry age has risen from 71 to 79 in recent years.
Another predicted result of the policy has been that some may choose to skip the retirement village and low-care stages and move directly from the family home into a high-care facility. Ken points out that in so doing many are unable to enjoy the financial benefits of retirement living. “The first thing that usually happens for new retirement village residents is that, by selling their home and coming here, significant funds are freed up for them,” he says. “It improves their lifestyle; some are then able to take the trips that they’ve always wanted to take, but hadn’t been able to afford. As an added bonus you can go on these holidays knowing that the property will be looked after and maintained, and you’ve got people around you who take an interest in your welfare”.
Before purchasing the new units, the Church managed both their own 10 units, as well as the 40 built for the other owner, through a committee that Ken briefly served on in the late 1990’s. When the church was offered the rest of the village in 2002, he was also part of the subcommittee appointed by the church to investigate whether they should make the purchase, which was then finalised in March of 2003. When the Manager left in November of the same year, Ryall was asked to fill the gap on a caretaker basis for 12 months. “Eleven years later, I’m still here,” he laughs. Ken is currently beginning to make plans for his own retirement, including helping to determine Chesterville’s new Manager. “Because I have such a big personal investment in the village and its success, the one thing I want to make sure of is that it’s in good hands.”