20 March 2023

What is the difference between retirement villages and aged care homes?

6 min read

Here’s an overview to help you decide what is most appropriate for you, or your loved one. As you or your loved one age, you may find that it’s time to look into supported accommodation. When does this typically occur? Usually, it happens when the family home becomes too much or is too big to take care of, or you need someone closer at hand for personal support.  
There are various options available, but the two most common ones are aged care residences and retirement villages. Retirement villages are often referred to as ‘independent living' or ‘over 55 villages’ and aged care residences can be referred to as ‘nursing homes’ although this is quite outdated. While there is support from employees in retirement villages, it is limited, compared with residential aged care, where there are employees on-site 24/7 to take care of residents’ needs in a far more structured manner. 
Retirement villages are a good option while the residents are still reasonably mobile and don’t require significant medical attention or assistance with personal care. Once a person starts to need more supervision and support with their day-to-day needs, residential aged care may be the more appropriate option. If you want to understand the key differences between aged care residences and retirement living, you’ll find this guide helpful. 

What is a retirement village? 

A retirement village is a purpose-built housing complex that offers a range of accommodation options, services and facilities for older Australians. 

Retirement villages come in many shapes and sizes and can range from small one-or-two-bedroom units to four-bedroom villas and high-rise apartments. 

Services, facilities and on-site support varies too. Some retirement villages can include a pool, library, golf course, theatre, organised social events, on-site concierge and 24-hour emergency assistance. 

Retirement villages are best for people who are still able to live independently in their own home but want to enjoy the benefits of living in a community with other older Australians. 

As your needs change, you can access allied health services at most retirement villages, as well as community transport and home care services. Plus, unlike most family homes, retirement villages feature age-friendly designs. This means there’s plenty of room for things like mobility aids and handrails to support you. 

Most retirement villages offer cheaper accommodation than similar sized homes in the same area, however there are other costs associated with living in a retirement village.  

Often, retirement villages will have an adjoining aged care residence where you can move into when the time comes.  

What is an aged care home? 

An aged care residence provides you with professional and personal care often in a purpose-built home or one that has been adapted where you feel safe and supported. 

Aged care residences are best for people who can no longer live independently or need 24/7 care and support. 

The services, facilities and care you receive depends on your individual needs, but most aged care residences offer general care, dementia care, palliative care and respite care by highly trained and qualified employees. 

Other features of residential aged care centres include nutritious meals and refreshments, entertainment, activities and social outings, and optional extras like entertainment, fresh flowers and allied health services. Some care centres also have hairdressers, podiatrists, physiotherapists and beauticians on site, too. 

Residents have their personalised care plans reviewed regularly in aged care residences to ensure their level of care and support caters to their changing needs. 

The cost of your aged care residence depends on the style of accommodation you choose and your individual financial circumstances. Depending on your situation, you may also be eligible for government funding.  You will find out more about the costs relating to residential aged care here

Aged care residences are traditionally smaller in size compared to retirement villages and fees cover all the expenses of care including meals and accommodation. Meals are usually scheduled throughout the day providing a more structured atmosphere for residents.  

Comparison between a retirement home and an aged care residence  

Retirement villages provide an independent lifestyle for those who do not need additional living assistance. Aged care residences can give those who do need daily care a comfortable, safe, and active environment for years to come. If you’ve decided that an aged care home is more appropriate for your loved one, find out more about how to choose the right one here. Estia Health has over seventy aged care homes across four (4) states (QLD, VIC, NSW and SA) to choose from. If you would like assistance with choosing your new home, please call 1300 682 833.

It can be hard to know what all the differences are, so here they are at a glance. Compare and contrast the details of retirement village living and aged care residences.