A philosophy of care that extends to the whole community
Here at HBH Senior Living, we’re about supporting all older people to age well – not just within the gates of our retirement village – but also within the wider community we serve.
“HBH has a very different focus than some other aged care providers,” says CEO, Bonnie Robinson. “Yes, we provide more traditional models of care, such as our rest home, hospital and respite care, but at the heart of our philosophy, we aim to help all older people in our community to age well, no matter where they live.”
As part of this unique approach, HBH Senior Living has a particular focus on helping vulnerable older people in our community (whether they’re vulnerable for health or financial reasons), so we provide a range of services to those who might not otherwise be able to access them.
A ‘virtual village’ of friendship, fun & support
Virtual Village East is a great example of this approach. A local initiative created and operated by HBH, it’s a social network of friendship and mutual support that aims to help seniors in the East Auckland community stay connected, active and sociable.
“The idea came from research that showed just how detrimental loneliness can be for your health,” explains Bonnie. “We’d also done some work with HBH Senior Living residents, who said that companionship and community were what they most liked about retirement village living, further reinforcing the need for an initiative like Virtual Village East.”
The network aims to introduce seniors to each other through activities, gatherings and classes – such as Safe & Strong exercise classes, cooking and technology workshops, a walking group, regular outings and monthly ‘Coffee & Catch-up’ mornings.
“The idea is that the friendships and networks created during these activities can carry on afterwards,” says Bonnie. “We run and fund the Virtual Village ourselves and already have over 280 people in the network. Most activities have about 45 people coming along, so it’s been very successful overall. It really came into its own during last year’s lockdowns, keeping members busy and connected.”
Providing affordable local housing for seniors
Another great example of HBH’s philosophy at work is the purchase of Gulf Views rest home last year. Bonnie says they realised that if HBH didn’t purchase Gulf Views, it might no longer meet the need in the community for more affordable senior living.
“Gulf Views is a boutique rest home in Howick and one of the reasons we bought it is that it only has standard rooms,” she says. “That’s very unusual in care facilities nowadays: to cover costs and meet expectations, most facilities have to charge premiums for some of their rooms. But we know that many seniors can’t afford to pay a premium, so we wanted to make sure that standard rooms were still available in East Auckland.”
For similar reasons, HBH also bought Howick’s Stevenson Village in 2017, to ensure there was enough affordable social housing for older people in the area. “If we hadn’t bought it, the tenants would have had to find housing elsewhere – and chances are, they wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay in the area they’ve lived in all their lives,” explains Bonnie.
On top of that, there’s also HBH Senior Living’s Day Programme, which provides age-friendly activities, meals and care for hundreds of older people in the East Auckland community, with around 55 people a day bussed in to take part in this much-loved programme. The day comprises a wide range of activities (depending on attendees’ interests), including indoor sports, games, music, crafts and lunch – and of course, regular tea breaks!
“We’re always on the lookout for more ways we can support seniors in our community,” say Bonnie. “It’s all part of our philosophy of caring for as many older people in our community as we can, in every little way.”