Abbeyfield seeks to expand

Abbeyfield New Zealand executive officer Susan Jenkins (right) visits the organisation's Dunedin...
Abbeyfield New Zealand executive officer Susan Jenkins (right) visits the organisation's Dunedin home, meeting (from left) resident Shirley Erwin, housekeeper Robyn Thomson, resident Ingrid Philpott and committee member Margy Jean Malcolm. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Retirement accommodation provider Abbeyfield is seeking to open a second house in Dunedin.

Abbeyfield New Zealand executive officer Susan Jenkins, who visited the organisation's Balmacewen Rd house yesterday, said the popularity of the existing home and the increasing number of retired people meant there was a clear need for the kind of option Abbeyfield offered.

"We are probably one step back from looking for a site to build a home, but we are looking for partners, volunteers, and people who are interested in helping us to explore multiple options," Ms Jenkins said.

"We have got the vision and some of the people to drive it, but we are looking for more people who can drive it."

Abbeyfield houses comprise about 10 linked rooms with shared facilities.

Residents rent their rooms, with their payments covering costs and also the wages of a "housekeeper" who prepares two cooked meals a day.

The houses aim to offer affordable independent living, but also provide residents with companionship and support.

"There are 14 Abbeyfield houses in New Zealand, but it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the need, so we have been looking at how and where we want to expand to meet that need," Ms Jenkins said.

"We intend to add a house or possibly even two in places where we have already got them, as Abbeyfield is a little bit of a different concept and it helps to have some awareness of what it is and how it works, and a skilled body of volunteers."

Abbeyfield Dunedin was initially set up with its foundation tenants having a licence to occupy their homes.

However, the house was restructured with residents becoming rental tenants, now the standard model for Abbeyfield houses nationwide.

"I think we are all grateful for the work those first residents did and the contribution they made," Ms Jenkins said.

"This house is now pretty much fully occupied, and that speaks very strongly for itself.

"It means they have been able to lower rents significantly and it has lowered a barrier for someone who might not have much in the way of savings."

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