Seniors village hub movement heads for the Hills

L-R: John Giardina (Chair, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group), Geof Irvin (Deputy Chair, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group) and Peter Kenyon (Volunteer Project Manager, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group). Photo: David Baylis
L-R: John Giardina (Chair, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group), Geof Irvin (Deputy Chair, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group) and Peter Kenyon (Volunteer Project Manager, Kalamunda Seniors Hub Working Group). Photo: David Baylis

A GLOBAL grassroots movement that is changing the way seniors retire is making its way to Kalamunda.

Bank of Ideas spokesman Peter Kenyon said the seniors village hub movement was in response to an overwhelming desire by older residents to live independently in their community.

“The village hub is a networking arrangement operating as a not-for-profit organisation that enables people to live in their own home but enjoy and exceed the benefits that could be experienced in a retirement facility,” he said.

“The hub gives people access to a network of support including volunteer services, trusted business referrals, social connection and community engagement.”

Mr Kenyon said the first village was established in the United States in 2002 by 11 friends and neighbours.

“Currently in the USA, there are 200 of these senior village hubs in 45 states, with 35,000 plus members,” he said.

“Another 150 village hubs are at the developmental stage.

“Across the globe, there are over 400 village hubs, which can be found in countries as diverse as South Korea and Finland.

“The average cost of membership can range from $300 -$1200 per annum, though most offer some form of reduced or waived fee to people with modest means.”

Mr Kenyon said the first Australian village hub was established in 2013 in Sydney and the second in Victoria Park.

“Australian Bureau of Statistics data estimates 3.3 million people in Australia are aged 65 years and over with approximately 200,000 older Australians live in retirement villages, while almost the same number live in nursing homes,” he said.

“This indicates that 82 per cent of older Australians are living in private dwellings – living in their original family home, a downsized home or with family.

“Most have that desire to stay put.”

Mr Kenyon said the village hubs would help meet growing demand for seniors with the Australian population aged over 65 expected to hit 5.8 million by 2031.

“Australia is not able to provide enough traditional retirement and aged care home arrangements and services to meet current demand, let alone contemplate future forecasts,” he said.

Mr Kenyon said one of the key characteristics of the hub was to build upon existing community assets and networks.

“Through the coordinated network, participating members have access to a wide range of vetted, trusted, discounted and affordable services such as household repairs, home care services and personal trainers,” he said.

“A volunteer support network will offer personal support and services like transportation, gardening and friendly visitors.

“There will be a buddy system where an ‘ask-a-member-first’ policy operates so members share information, do small tasks for each other and look out for each other.

“It will include social connections and engagement through group and learning activities such as health and wellness programs, recreation and educational activities, happy hours, men’s dinners, tool lending library and group trips.

“It is simply all about ageing in place with all the benefits and comforts of home, and at an affordable cost.”

A morning tea with Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt will be held on May 15 at the Lesmurdie Club to discuss the proposal. For more information contact Maria D’Souza on 0404 957 780.