Novacare Busselton Village is a privately owned lifestyle retirement village, developed and managed by a small group of property investors. The 8.1 Ha site was purchased in 2001 and the Independent living units (ILUs) and community facilities have been developed in stages as sale of ILUs have progressed. The final Village stage 6 of 21 premium ILUs was completed in April of 2014, and Novacare Village in Busselton now features 178 ILUs and a full complement of community facilities.
Busselton is located in the Southwest of Western Australia. “We like the area because Busselton is a very popular retirement community and holiday destination for Western Australians, and a lot of our residents have come from people who have holidayed here over the years,” says Managing Director Gordon Genat. The village’s location is ideal, situated within 500 metres of the white sand beaches of Geographe Bay and at the gateway to the Dunsborough / Margaret River wine region, world famous surf beaches and south west natural forests, whilst only 2 and a half hours’ drive from central Perth. As an independent lifestyle village, Novacare provides access to a number of community aged care service providers, while offering a full complement of facilities ranging from an indoor heated swimming pool to a cinema, as well as craft rooms, a men’s shed, a recreational hall with a stage, and a restaurant with a commercial kitchen. The village is co-located in Broadwater with the Aegis Group, a large residential aged care provider in Western Australia, who has recently completed their Ellenvale, 140-bed residential aged care facility within 250 metres of the Novacare Village. “It caters for the ongoing residential care needs for our residents” says Gordon. “We have over 260 residents currently living in our village and whilst we support aging in place there will always be residents that need the services of a residential aged care facility”.
Since the village’s conception, the goal of Novacare was to provide an attractive lifestyle accommodation for self-funded retirees. “I wanted to build a village that I myself would be prepared to live in,” Gordon laughs. “I wanted to build a village that catered to the locals, as well as to those from Perth who wanted to downsize.” Novacare provide houses ranging in price from the high $300 000’s to the low $600 000’s, with the final development stages focusing on premium product, with timber floors, granite bench tops, ducted air conditioning, and double lock-up garages. “We’ve seen a 100% increase in sales this financial year,” Gordon continues. “Retirement living is very attractive option for senior Australians. A lot of people who move into our village are downsizing out of older homes, and they like the fact that they are moving into a new, modern village, with new homes and superb community facilities in a great coastal location.”
Novacare has always endeavoured to work alongside its residents, and has a very active resident’s committee. “We’ve always seen the importance of engaging with them,” says Gordon, who himself regularly attends the resident committee meetings. “Because we built the village in stages, we involved them in the discussion on the community facilities that we would provide. We believe that that engagement is vital to the success of running a retirement village”.
Security is a matter of the utmost importance within the Novacare village. “A fair number of our residents are women living on their own, so security is vital,” Gordon explains. In addition to being a gated community, all of Novacare ILU’s have lock-up garages, as well as access directly from the garages into the house. The village also features a 24-hour security call system, and access to the community facilities is limited to residents by means of a swipe-card system. Novacare has also fitted security screens to all opening windows, as well as a security camera system, and an intercom that allows residents to open the gates from their own homes. “Security is also supported by the residents all being part of a like-minded community,” says Gordon. “Our residents look out for each other and there are always residents willing to help out or volunteer should the need arise.”
Novacare has won a number of building awards for many of the village’s ILUs, and is currently one of the four finalists in the Property Council Lend Lease award for the Best Retirement Living Development in 2015 in Australia. “We have a lot of happy residents, and that’s truly what it’s all about when providing a retirement living option for seniors,” Gordon says. “We don’t see ourselves as selling houses; we’re selling a retirement living lifestyle. People are coming because they want to live in an active retirement community.”
A member of the Retirement Villages Association prior to it becoming part of the Property Council, Novacare has always taken pride in its involvement with the industry. “We see the move to the Property Council as being a great idea,” says Gordon, “and we look forward to being part of that. Being a small group like we are, we find that it’s important that the whole retirement living industry works together to provide a great product.” Novacare is involved in a number of the Property Council’s village manager training workshops, with Gordon recently attending one as a speaker. “We strongly believe in the concept of continuous improvement, there’s always something new or better that we can do, and so we always like to be involved, and like to know what’s going on, to ensure that we’re always doing better than we did last year.”
Many feel that interference from the State Government is greatest issue currently facing the retirement village industry in WA. “It’s vital for this industry to grow and develop to meet the demands of our aging population,” Gordon says. “I became involved in this industry as a non-executive director on a couple of church and charitable boards over the past 25 years, and for this industry to grow, it needs to attract private investment, it needs private equity, and I would love to see this industry being seen like other property investment sectors like shopping centres or commercial buildings. It needs to be attractive to private investors in order to grow.”
Gordon started his own construction business in 1978, and has been involved with property development and building construction industry ever since. He became interested in the retirement village industry through being on a church and charitable board between 1990 and 2000. With the completion of the Novacare Busselton Village, Gordon’s objective for the future is to develop another retirement village. “We like managing our Busselton village and are keen to incorporate what we have leant over the last 10 years into a new retirement village development”