A taste of community life right now

Blog posted

29th May 2020 - By Will Bax

The social life in a retirement community right now is obviously missing the usual buzz of coffee mornings, yoga classes, bridge clubs, art groups, boules matches and the long list of other events usually crammed into village diaries at this time of year. But one thing is for sure, there is no lessening in the social scene – it’s just become more virtual or followed at ‘socially distanced’ arms length.

What is very evident is that through the current situation, community spirit continues to shine through and probably stronger than ever in our communities.

We wanted to share some of this with you. Here are a few uplifting stories and activities that have been taking place over the last few weeks…..

Village Facebook hits 100!

Our private resident Facebook group, set up in the opening weeks of the pandemic, reached its 100th follower very quickly and is still growing as residents from individual villages get the chance to contact one another across this network.

It’s been a great way to share ideas as well as show what’s happening. In fact, the Facebook group was born out of the current situation but has been such a winner, it will definitely continue long into the future!

Village walks

Our residents have always been a very active group of people, they’ve continued to make great use of the extensive grounds, woodland walks and allotment gardens. Many have been very creative by taking some great snaps and videoing their daily walks on their smart phones to share with others.

The result has been some incredible Spring images of the grounds and the wildlife. Even our gardening teams, who have done an amazing job to keep our acres and acres of lawns, shrubbery, ponds, walkways and woodlands looking at their very best, have now got in on the act. Here’s a tour of Roseland Parc in early Spring from head gardener Bob Mehan.

We must mention Margaret Hatch whose daily strolls around our Berkhamsted community, Castle Village, have been an absolute joy, as the example here shows.

Margaret says that whilst certain things have changed in her life right now she’s keeping busy and enjoying the down time , despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic. Read Margaret’s personal account here.

Taking village activities online

Derrick Myers Resident at Elmbridge Retirement VillageOf course, not all community events have come to an end. A number of our savvy IT residents have been discovering virtual classes and other social activities, and have been organising online activities for fellow villagers to jump on and join in.

There’s everything running from weekly Medau classes and keep fit sessions to Musical Memory quizzes. Even the regular monthly Residents’ Association committee meetings are happening on Zoom!

As Derrick Myers at our Surrey community, Elmbridge Village, says ‘technology might be blamed for a lot of things but right now, it is bringing us closer together’. You can read Derrick’s inspiring thoughts on the current situation here.

VE Day

If you ever needed evidence of true community spirit look no further than the VE Day celebrations. Residents held doorstep sing songs, had VE Day buffets delivered to their homes – one village even had its very own flypast and another, a selection of wartime vehicles arrived for the day! You can find them all here on our Facebook page.

Not forgetting our staff

It’s times like now that the true meaning of our communities is recognised and that is led by the staff as well as residents who have all come together to support one another.

We’ve organised weekly wellness calls with every single resident. This is more than just a catch-up call, it’s a proper chat, a chance for a natter. iPads are available for residents to share where they may not have access to the Internet and want to Facetime or Zoom friends and family. Staff have been helping set up online shopping for people in addition to running errands to and from our own village shops and placing orders with some of our local retail partners in the wider community. It’s been a real team effort.

We’re also circulating weekly newsletters through every post box with ideas and puzzles, aimed at keeping spirits and general wellbeing as upbeat and positive as possible as the weeks progress. You can take a look at the ‘RV Connect’ newsletter, which is sent via email and post, here.

We know residents would want to join us in thanking all staff teams who are really going above and beyond right now in all of our communities. We regularly applaud their efforts through our Employee Recognition Awards and so in light of this, we want to champion our latest recipient Paul Stannaway from our Devon community, Gittisham Hill Park.  His efforts with resident meal deliveries and ensuring shopping was delivered straight to residents’ doors, have earned him the following well-deserved praise: “Paul shows all of the qualities needed in these circumstances we find ourselves in, and it’s people like Paul that really are the heartbeat of our organisation who go beyond day in, day out for our residents’ wellbeing.”

While life in any one of our communities might be different right now we hope you all agree, and as this article testifies, it’s still enormous fun and the village spirit of togetherness runs stronger than ever


Will Bax

Will Bax

Chief Executive Officer

Will joined Retirement Villages Group in April 2019. He was previously Executive Director at Grosvenor Group with responsibility for the management and development of its 300-acre central London estate. He has also been Chair of the Mayfair Forum, responsible for creating one of London’s first Neighbourhood Plans, and a board member of the New West End Company, the business improvement district for the West End. Will, married with three children and living in Wandsworth, London, is also a Trustee of The Old Royal Naval College, responsible for Christopher Wren’s riverside masterpiece in Greenwich, now a UNESCO world heritage site.