The lengthy, complex buying journey of retirement living
How today’s lifestyle services raise the bar with technology expectations
Okay, right. Got just over 10 minutes left. And I just wanna get into my last topic, which is around the technology expectation. So technology we have talked about in previous topics. But technology has rapidly disrupted this space both directly and indirectly, as my panellists have talked around. What this audience and will continue to are now used to in what they use both channels devices, technology in in their lifestyle choices thinking of…
I talked about how they manage their finances, how they consume entertainment, how they travel, how they communicate with friends and family, that it's becoming more and more relevant and more and more widespread in terms of the technology that they use. So Lyndsey I wanted to go to you first around this. So with 55 Redefined, it's all around extending your lifestyle choices and not stopping them. How has technology expectations changed for this audience? And what would you say are the top four or five normal things for them now?
“Streaming has opened up a whole world of technology options for later living.”
Well, one thing that I think is the real upside of what's come out of the pandemic. There's not many upsides, the pandemic. One of them is the rate of technology change. So the accessibility that that was given to this generation to come back to work, to volunteer. You know, we've got volunteering people in their seventies and eighties that wanted to volunteer, but you didn't want the physical aspects of it can now volunteer and read to children via Zoom, you know, and they get an interaction, they come back and that would these things just would not have happened pre the pandemic.
You know, other than a few select businesses that I was working with, that we're on Teams and that infrastructure, you know, it wasn't mainstream as it is. And we're all sat here today, you know, on video calls. So that streaming has opened up a whole world of technology options for later living.
The biggest one is health and wellbeing, actually. So if we were to generalise around previous generations, grandparents, generations later life was more about, you know, you would look at health around fixing illness. You'd be considering your options once you've had a heart attack or once you've obtained a disability or something of that ilk, whereas this generation are actually super fit. You know, there is a disconnect between rich and poor, so affluence has a massive impact on health and longevity of life in this age group.
But what we're seeing is that they're wanting access to physios, to online streaming, to fitness apps, to nutrition apps, and they're wanting that to kind of blend with their life. And I think again, you know, finding a way of doing that within a community, as a physical community and bringing people together rather than always being, you know, we're going down the village hall type scenario will be fantastic.
Retirement living is all about enabling online communities
And then the third thing that we see the most often we get the most requests for. So we haven't solved it yet. But give us six months, we'll be all over. It is around online community. And it is online. So when we've been describing community here, we've been talking about the physical community, neighbours, infrastructure, communities, whereas what we're being asked for is to create a digital community of like minded people. So who are the people that are interested in books? Who are their interests that are interested in the next release at the National Gallery. Who are the people that are interested in doing a crazy adventure tour of Iceland and and they're wanting to be able to have threads and streams and conversations and put out to that audience. You know, you talked about influencing earlier time, and it's not just about going to my friend who I've known for 20 years. It's about going to a peer group in a community digitally that I feel that people like me and going. Has anyone been here? What do you all think? And so I think the providers need to get a lot smarter about infiltrating and owning some of those conversations in these digital communities.
You know, a great app for at the moment that's gone an absolute storm is Next Door, you know. So that obviously went crazy in the pandemic that has brought digital communities together... Is anybody you know... Obviously it's got you know, the the odd, crazy things that you get with a local community, and it goes a bit neighbourhood watch-ey. But there's some beautiful things around that that create connected people that are one street apart that suddenly have a really shared interest that they would never have found.
So for me, it is around, you know, accessibility of work. So the fact that people can now and volunteering, which is all going to be through live streaming. The accessibility, fitness and wellbeing via virtual engagement and the accessibility of digital communities and how you know the providers in this space get involved in those conversations as they're happening in a live state rather than broadcast advertising. You know, waiting for somebody to see that effort.
Mark, what's your view on digital communities? So you've talked before the last topic around how you want to get them through to living. But once they are living there itself, putting aside physical communities, what's your view on what AHH see, and are trying to do to build this digital community need?
I'm really pleased that it echoes a lot of what Lyndsey has said, which is very reassuring. It's strange. I think a few things have definitely changed during the pandemic, and nothing more so than the want, the desire, the need for communication. And when you dive into that when we get to talking to our customers, it's not us talking to them. It's not us communicating with them. It's us to be able to connect those communities together and that goes across not just a single site, a single development that might have multiple different types of housing. But actually different communities that sit within our Platinum Skies umbrella being able to connect together because, of course, what they realise is that there are like minded groups of people that will have common interests and common passions and purposes.
So that's a massive desire and something we're trying to enable using existing technology today, because it's all they're also thinking about in the future. How we do that better, how we enable our communities to connect with each other in a way that doesn't lead to any sort of interference or moderation from above.
And also we are doing a programme where we're bringing in champions into our business and their wellbeing champions so physical, emotional, mental, financial wellbeing and with the purpose that these champions can use technology and be there in person but use technology to communicate with the broader cohort, everybody that lives at Platinum Skies, and beyond that, how do we then use technology to reach out into the local communities because our purpose to improve lives in later life doesn't just sit with those that might be lucky enough to be able to live in one of our homes.
“Technology will be key to bringing in our champions into the business to inspire, to motivate, to help give people purpose, passion.”
I think all of that is about using technology to enable it, and I think there is a lot of existing technology out there. Unfortunately, there isn't one platform that everybody uses, which makes it slightly more challenging. You know, there's a definite reluctance to try and create your own or new platforms because you don't want to be left with the legacy of carrying an infrastructure, with providing that platform. So we're trying to find ways of today easily connecting people and then bring in our champions into the business to inspire, to motivate, to help give people purpose, passion, give people new interests, make them ultimately happier and healthier. And technology will be key to doing that for us because one person can't get around thousands and thousands of homes.
Is retirement living still relevant?
Okay, so that leads me nicely onto wrapping up for today. So I think what I'm hearing from you three really is saying that this is all pinning on the point that the word retirement is no longer suitable or it's unsuitable for a significant population. And that's only going to get more and more irrelevant. Really, as a definition as a word, What does it actually mean? And so I think, really, could we agree that for many, the idea of living during later life is not defined potentially by this word? I'd like to wrap up and ask each of you What do you understand? What do you understand currently around the word retirement? What does it mean to you and what needs to change? Because I think a lot of what we talked around is the perception of what that and the connotations of what that word means is so far away from the reality of how these people are living right now. So, Jonty, I'll firstly go to you, and what do you say retirement means?
“Retirement is an opportunity to live how I want to live.”
On one level, it feels like the… I think in contrast to the States... retirement in the States, means the beginning of a new chapter. Whereas in the UK, it means the beginning of the end. And I think we need to get more towards that. This is an opportunity to live how I want to live. You know, whether that is still working part time, working, volunteering, whatever it is, it's taking control and and just getting in the mindset that it doesn't have to be... That's it. It's the potential that you can still keep living a life. Technology, health and wellbeing has evolved so much that there's so much more infrastructure there to support you that it should be the beginning of a new chapter.
“Replace retirement with flexibility.”
Personally, I think the word needs to go. I don't think it has any relevance. It was coined in a post-war society to define the average of six years of life when you retired, you took your state pension and then you died, quite frankly. So you can't encapsulate a 30 year plus period with that word.
For me, I'd like to replace to be flexibility. I'd like to us to start talking about later life flexible living, you know, and have, because that's what everybody is talking to us about. They want flexible lives, flexible homes, more of that less of that later life learning, you know. And so if we can get rid of this term, actually will also help get rid of quite a bit of ageism that occurs in the workplace, where we keep making an expectation that somebody wants to retire at certain age. Whereas if we just accept that everybody's got a bit of flexibility and they might drop down to four days a week or three days a week and do that over a 10 year timeframe rather than you work for 30 years, the switch goes off and then you retire, you know, then I think that's when we start to really move cultural practices forward.
“It’s about living in wonderful homes that are easy to look after and maintain, and people have the freedom and flexibility to live the life they want to lead.”
And finally, Mark, what would you say the word means?
Yeah, at the moment it does have you mentioned earlier those negative connotations. Just if you define the words "to retire" it means to almost withdraw, and that's so much not what our current, today that's not what our current customers want or need. It is just a different phase of life. And when I go to one of our communities, maybe on a Friday when they've got happy hour, and it's full of joy and happiness, and they're living in wonderful homes that are easy to look after and maintain, and they have the freedom and flexibility to live the life they want to lead... I'm a few years off yet, but I certainly look forward to that.
Okay, just before we wrap up, there is one question I just want to go to, and I think I believe it's to you. Mark, this is Nick. Nick says. What are your thoughts on alining sector Terminology to Arco's IRC Integrated Retirement Community?
Yeah, ARCO've been pushing out recently this idea that I think commonly driven by Extra Care that you have this sort of end to end community. Maybe it's sort of like a campus model where you can come into a community at 55 and stay within that community and maybe move into slightly different accommodation and getting different levels of support as you go through. So I understand the label for the type of product. I'm not sure it's overly helpful for those that are looking for a solution. It's my opinion.
Okay, let's wrap up then. So I want to say, first of all and massive thank you to my guests, Mark, Jonty and Lyndsey. Thank you for everybody that's joined us this morning. We will be sending this out as a recording. As I said at the start, and keep posted because we're announcing new topic soon. So if you're registered, you will get those alerts. Thank you. And have a good day. Take care!
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