Harry and Marj Kensell in the beautiful bush garden they helped to create at Living Choice Glenhaven.

Harry Kensell, President of the Residents’ Committee at Living Choice Glenhaven, reflects on the benefits of living in a retirement village during these challenging times.

A certainty of life is that change will happen! Whether we are plagued by fire, flood, drought, war or some imported virus, change is irregular and inevitable.

We might ask ourselves, “Would we be better off if we were living somewhere else?” A strong argument can be made that we are fortunate, in this drastic set of circumstances, that we are living in a well-organised retirement village.

We, at Living Choice Glenhaven, have been carefully monitoring events as they unfold and have moved to put in place precautions to, hopefully, minimise the risk of the virus gaining a foothold and spreading through the village: or to areas outside the village.

Management, supported by the Residents’ Committee, has cancelled many activities and group gatherings and has implemented other precautions, and will continue to monitor changing circumstances.

It is unfortunate that activities need to be restricted. An unwanted result of these restrictions is the deleterious effect that restriction of activities and group gatherings have on the social health of the village. This is particularly so of the many residents we have with restricted mobility and those who have a limited outside support system. These residents, and other residents, enjoy the social interaction that the village provides. We have over 60 organised activities and their curtailment is a serious blow to our social cohesion.

We are trying to keep contact with residents and our residents are being encouraged to move about the outdoor areas of the village, whilst maintaining the recommended social distancing. They are also being encouraged to keep contact by other means. Already I am getting feedback of increased interaction and a heightened awareness of the adverse effects of social isolation. Our Fire Wardens are in regular contact with residents to check for problems and to encourage continued sensible contact with fellow residents. The Writers’ Group has today gone online.

To reduce the need for residents to have too much contact with shopping crowds, fighting over the suddenly valuable toilet rolls, we are moving to increase deliveries to the village: a fresh fruit and veggie truck will start this week, a local deli and grocery store will make deliveries and more initiatives of this ilk are being planned.

This is a time when what we often attest, “we care for each other” will be tested in the fires of reality. We will not fail the test!