Words: Anne Schauffer

Moving into the retirement phase of life, each person has different concerns, budgets and priorities, particularly as to the medical or care aspect. That factor alone is likely to steer your course.

Retirement developments fall largely into two different models – sectional title, or life rights. Sectional title is a familiar concept to South Africans, life rights being the preferred international model, but one which is increasingly claiming a footprint in South Africa.

In a nutshell, sectional title gives the owner full ownership, can be sold at a market-related price, and will be willed to family.

For life rights, the developer retains ownership of the unit (therefore has a vested interest in the upkeep of the development), while you and your spouse have the right to live there for your lifetime. On you or your spouse’s death, there will be a legal agreement in place, which entitles the developer to sell “your” unit, and pay out your heirs with something in the region of the original “purchase” price – this calculation varies, depending on the development or developer, but it’s a highly transparent process to which everybody is privy from the outset.

Medical or care facilities

Retirees always need to have one eye on future costs, but that’s tricky when you have no idea how long that future might be. At some stage, however, medical or care costs are very likely to be required, and there are a number of different care models. Full on-site in-house care – sometimes two or three tiers of such – is one model, and many retirees would choose this as first prize.

Arthur Case, CEO, Evergreen, which operates on the life-rights model, says, “We develop care centres that cater to primary health care, home-based care, recuperative care, frail and palliative care, and soon we’ll include memory-care facilities. In our large villages like Muizenberg and Broadacres, we have 2,000m² full service care centres and in the smaller villages, clinics. All future villages will be large with care centres providing all levels of care, in other words, ‘continuous care’.”

Regarding costs, there’s no cross subsidisation. Residents pay on a fee-for-service basis when they need care. “Other than basic primary care services like blood pressure testing, care is not included in the basic levy, but provided on a fee-for-service basis. The care centres admit seniors from inside and outside the village. For 24/7 frail care, Evergreen residents pay approximately 20% less than non-residents,” says Case.

Suzette du Preez, MD, TruCare Age Well Solutions Inc, in Gauteng – known as MyCare in KwaZulu-Natal – believes, “Frail care, as we know it in South Africa, is an outdated model. The future of care is specialist facilities for conditions like Alzheimer’s, palliative care, and so on. On average, only between 2% to 3% of residents living on an estate would require a higher level of care. That doesn’t warrant the high building cost and infra-structure of a frail care centre.”

Du Preez is an exponent of the “ageing in place” philosophy which is increasingly the more popular global model. It makes more sense financially, and because it’s perceived as advantageous for today’s retiree. Receiving care in your own home is not only the choice of most, but it reduces the stress of the other partner who has to visit another section (often a distance from their own home) of the complex… and the isolation felt when home alone. By reducing the size of frail care units or number of beds, and the numbers of permanent staff and facilities, a service is provided only when needed – a clinic provides all the basic services like blood pressure monitoring.

Outsourced medical?

Another smart option is not only outsourced care at a retirement village, but a freestanding medical centre with ageing-related illness specialists. Residents have this literally on their doorstep and can consult as they would any medical specialists and pay them independently of their accommodation.