An Idea Whose Time has Come

Cover Story

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

The recent launch of GreenAcres, one of the first integrated retirement villages in Peninsular Malaysia, heralds a new era for Ipoh. This ‘City that Tin Built’ is set to gain renewed vigour, emerging from the doldrums that the slump in tin prices brought. Ipoh is now given the opportunity to show off its salubrious environment and ambiance as the perfect place for seniors to live out their golden years in peace and safety while enjoying an active communal lifestyle with other like-minded seniors.

Less encumbrances, less maintenance, less baggage – greater freedom

According to Mrs Chong Heng Kiong, co-founder, TI Homes & GreenAcres and a retired registered nurse, “This project represents the culmination of a long journey. It started off with a simple idea of providing a better quality of life for retirees since many retirees have bemoaned the fact that there are no good options presently in Malaysia to cater for the elderly.”

Her son John Chong, the other co-founder and Executive Director, concurs, “A retirement village is a community of independent seniors. It is not a nursing home. It is not a place where you sit and wait for the inevitable. It is a place for you to enjoy life after retirement, where you can age gracefully and with full dignity.”

Australian Standards

GreenAcres is being developed in the fast upcoming township of Bandar Meru Raya, and residents can expect an international level of wellness facilities and care features, similar to Watermark in Sydney and Rylands in Melbourne. Indeed, the design of GreenAcres was a collaboration between Malaysian and Australian architects who have brought out the best living conditions whilst keeping seniors in mind.

GreenAcres project consultant is ZenCare Lifestyle Australia, helmed by its founder Richard Lim who has spent almost 16 years in the retirement and aged-care industry in Australia. He is a founding director of Jeta Gardens, Australia’s first ageing-in-place development in Brisbane Queensland, whose stake he has since relinquished and after two decades in Australia, Richard is bringing his expertise and talent home to Malaysia. ZenCare will be behind the management of GreenAcres as well as carrying out periodic quality audits based on Australian RV Accreditation Standards to ensure that all services are up to mark.

“Living in a retirement village is about making a lifestyle choice, insistence on a good quality of life within a vibrant community with freedom of choice and peace of mind.”

A study undertaken in Hong Kong revealed that residents living in a communal environment (senior accommodation) showed higher psychological well-being than residents living alone or with their families. With the GreenAcres development, children of elderly parents can rest assured that their parents are leading an active, happy life within the cocoon of a well managed environment with other active retirees,” said Richard.

Better Psychological Health and Increased Lifespan

Validating the Hong Kong study, global surveys have revealed that retirement village residents generally enjoy a higher personal well-being (happier); are in better psychological health; are less likely to suffer from depression and have an increased lifespan.

At GreenAcres, residents will have plenty of choices, from what activities to engage in, explore new hobbies and make new friends. The freedom to travel or visit family and friends without worrying about home or garden is there. Retirement becomes a period of new opportunity and life begins anew.

Communal and General Facilities

Communal facilities at the purpose-built ‘community centre’ include a restaurant, mini cinema,  karaoke room, gym, multi-purpose hall and meditation room. There will also be space provided for visiting doctors and hairdressers among others. Wellness programmes and excursion activities will be offered regularly and a Village Shuttle will be available to take residents to major shopping centres in town. Staff on standby at a monitoring station 24/7, provide additional security and assurance to residents and their families outside.

Each unit at GreenAcres is designed to provide comfortable and secure accommodation. In place are elder-friendly touches like grab bars in the bathroom, emergency call system, minimal curbs and wide doorways for wheelchair access. These design elements provide the freedom to enjoy a secure, active and independent lifestyle without the day-to-day concerns of maintaining a large house or garden. Security is also taken care of since GreenAcres is a gated and guarded community.

Every resident has his or her own fully self-contained unit, and units are designed with the need for privacy in mind. To reduce effort in moving in, each unit comes partly furnished with kitchen cabinets and built-in wardrobes in the bedroom. Residents are free to customise the look of their unit with their own furniture and decorations to make the unit feel like home.

Vibrant Community – True Independence

“It is time to relinquish images of old folks’ homes populated by people waiting for the inevitable. GreenAcres will be a vibrant community, which offers companionship, social, intellectual and physical activities for its residents. In reality, it is a community of independent people enjoying life. Residents are free to come and go as they please. No restrictions are placed on your movement,” continued John Chong, enthusiastically.

“With living at home or with family, you are depending on the help and goodwill of family members or the foreign maid. A retirement village offers security and freedom of choice of activities. You can choose to take part or to be alone. This is true independence. In times of crisis, other like-minded residents can offer immediate support. The staff at GreenAcres will be trained in first aid to act as first responders in case of any sudden emergencies and several private hospitals are a 10-15 minute drive away,” he added.

The GreenAcres philosophy has been infused with the experience of its Australian partners in the aged-care industry. Their mission is to enable residents to enjoy a good quality of life and remain independent for as long as possible. They bring to the project an empathic understanding of the ageing process that affect the seniors psychologically and physiologically and the resulting issues, fears and needs faced by them and this knowledge is then built into the facilities and activities in GreenAcres.

Lifetime Lease

Unlike a normal property, you do not actually buy the physical unit at GreenAcres. Rather you buy a lifetime lease over the unit, which entitles you to occupy, use and enjoy it, including the facilities of the clubhouse. Although you do not own the unit, your right to occupy, use and enjoy it is secured by contract and by registration with the local authorities. You are free to move out and surrender the lease at any time, at which point a portion of the lease payment will be returned to you according to a pre-agreed formula.

The first phase of GreenAcres will see 110 landed units available. There will be six layouts to choose from, the smallest being one bedroom suites at 750 sq ft, up to the largest at 1100 sq ft. The second component will be low-rise apartments with elevators. There will be three blocks, four storeys per block.

Units are not for sale but leased out to interested parties for personal use, at the starting price of RM300,000 for a lifetime. Additionally, there will be a monthly maintenance fee starting from RM300 depending on the size of unit leased.

For MM2H retirees, this may be the ideal opportunity for securing a retirement home. With the new requirement which came into effect this year where MM2H residents may only purchase homes worth more than RM1 million, the GreenAcres lease may be the perfect option.

Phase 2 Aged Care

Built on a land size of thirteen acres, GreenAcres addresses the needs of the elderly at many levels, from social to psychological needs and subsequently in Phase 2 of the project, different levels of care needs at its aged-care facility, run by trained nursing staff. The aged-care facility is expected to come up in another two years. Envisioned is a home providing a level of care that is just a notch below a hospital’s and will fill the gap for step-down care. Understandably, preference for acceptance at the aged-care facility will be given to those who have already leased one of the units.

GreenAcres, which has commenced construction, will complete by the first quarter of 2016.

TI Homes, an Ipoh company, has been involved in property development, primarily landed residential projects, since 1993. Their current projects include Tiara Lake Park and Taman Meru Mutiara.

For further information, contact TI Homes at +605 253 6555.
Address: 3 Jalan Lasam, Greentown, 30450 Ipoh.
Telephone: +6 05 2536 555
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