Aparangi Village has a long and varied history which has more than earned it a denomination as a unique organization in the retirement village industry. First established in 1972, Aparangi first came into being as a means to revitalize the Te Kauwhata region and take care of citizens who were heading off into retirement. Since its inception, it has been constantly innovating and was one of the very first retirement villages who conceptualized aspects which are frequently used today such as retirees owning their houses. In fact, this concept was widely publicized in New Zealand under the close scrutiny of professionals from a range of areas, including law.
The retirement village covers an area of 14.5 hectares with multiple choices for accommodation and residential care. Aparangi Village is a blooming community and things have only gotten better since Jackie Long’s arrival in 2013. The village’s General Manager has a long background in nursing as well as the mental health and addiction fields. Her management skills allow her to focus on funding the organization around, developing the village’s infrastructure, ensuring maximum occupancy, following the rules and regulations of the various governing bodies, and connecting with the residents.
Driving success through innovation and care
According to Jackie, the staff at Aparangi Village is treated like family. After all, the organization is a larger employer of Te Kauwhata so the people who come to work there have long links with the village. There’s a sense of community place and ownership and a culture that’s “built on principle and vision”, according to Jackie. Linking people together, young and old, is very important to the village. And even though there’s a structured hierarchy, the village rarely operates on a hierarchical basis. Instead, everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets to work.
There are quite a few other things that set the organization apart from other retirement villages. First and foremost, it is a non-gated community that sits at the very heart of its host town. It is virtually integrated into the town and it has created some very strong relationships with the local community, both personally and business-wise. According to Jackie, Aparangi Village tries to retain business continuity in terms of supporting the local community. Maintenance crews, such as plumbers, are always hired locally. Furthermore, supplies are bought from local businesses such as local supermarkets so that residents of the town can be supported.
Unique units for unique residents
The retirement village is extremely spacious and every single unit is designed in a unique way. In addition to that, it caters to all kinds of prospective residents. Whether someone wants to rent a property or can afford to build their own house, everyone is welcome in Aparangi. For instance, there are semi-independent apartments which are attached to the main units. That way, residents can get their medication easily, take part in the organized activities, and retain a stepping stone for the future. Jackie also commented on the impressive fact that these units haven’t had any vacancies for the last three years. What’s even more impressive is that the average occupancy for retirement villages is around 70-80 percent yet Aparangi’s numbers are closer to 90-95 percent.
The village’s expansion is not about to be halted either. Several years ago, an adjoining 10-acre development site was earmarked in Aparangi’s expansion plans. Three years ago, nothing was built on a large part of it. Now, there are up to many properties being built and several duplexes are already on the planning stages. These expansion plans simply show the level of growth experienced by Aparangi. Unique to retirement villages, the organization even has a waiting list of people who want to move into the retirement village, from the care unit right through to people who wish to own their own properties.
“We cannot keep up with demand”, comments Jackie.
Keeping residents happy and entertained
Of course, the people who are already residing in the retirement village are very satisfied with their accommodation and the services offered by the organization. Aparangi has dedicated focus groups, questionnaires, and family meetings in order to receive feedback and improve on whichever area they are lacking on. Furthermore, Jackie participates in the daily walk-arounds, meets with the residents and talks with them about their problems on a personal basis. The village’s quality initiatives also allow the team to continuously improve in every area.
Residents of Aparangi Village also enjoy a wealth of different activities which are aimed to foster social interactions, keep everyone active, and generally offer them diverse chances for entertainment. The community hall hosts activities throughout the entire week with dedicated programs already in place. There is yoga, healthy eating classes, dancing, concerts, lunches and BBQs, artwork, quilting, Saturday film nights, cultural and holiday celebrations, a weekly music group, and some very important fundraising activities.
On the subject of fundraising, The House of Treasures is a vital part of the village’s efforts. In essence, it’s a continuation of the original Arts and Crafts shop and employs the same core ideals. First and foremost, it’s Aparangi’s fundraising arm, run by volunteers, and it sells quality second-hand goods. Most of the capital gains go back to the people who invest in the village and its income has contributed to some major assets of the retirement village, such as quality equipment and beds for the care unit.
“Our shop is a social enterprise that we started in October three years ago. The House of Treasures is our fundraising arm. In the last three years we’ve re-kitted the care unit with a high-level, high-functioning bed, we’ve bought shower toiletries, gym equipment. Every piece of equipment that we’ve had in the shop is of high quality and it’s operated by volunteers so it replicates a concept that was there when the village was first established, the arts and crafts of significant artists and craftsmen of New Zealand though we do it quite differently. This has raised significant amounts of money which has allowed us to buy things like a van for the village which is used for trips”, Jackie explains.
The organization is also supported by numerous other fundraising activities and pathways. Gifts and donations, volunteering teams, and the Friends of Aparangi membership are just some of the ways people can contribute to the cause. There are always more things to build and services to invest on so Aparangi is always in need of support.
A passion to grow and evolve
The fact that Aparangi Village is constantly evolving cannot be denied. As far as technology goes, for instance, there have been major efforts to upgrade to modern standards with a fast broadband and an entrance to social media. In the rules and regulations department, Aparangi strictly follows the codes of ethics and strict sets of standards lined out by the corresponding official bodies. And as for the village itself, there are very few rules that govern its residents, such as respecting one’s neighbors.
As for the future, there are quite a lot of plans in Aparangi’s list of objectives. Home based care, for example, is of utmost importance and the organization wants to develop its own dementia unit so that it can deliver further excellent care to the residents. Moreover, it wants to offer an even wider range of apartment styles and retirement options, such as for people who are not yet retired but wish to move in when they are ready. In essence, the village wants to become a community hub for the entire region, a place where people of all ages can come and interact with each other in a range of activities.
More than that, the team of Aparangi Village has a very long-term vision that aims to support the community, allow the business to flourish, and grow the organization into an even bigger enterprise. For instance, in following the “no biases” approach of the original establishment, Jackie and her team are currently looking into expanding what is allowed in the village that traditionally criteria may have negated people owning in the village, e.g. small dogs.. And even though that’s just a small example, it showcases the organization’s work ethic and commitment to the betterment of the entire region. After all, the community of Te Kauwhata only stands to benefit from such endeavors.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Aparangi Village
WHAT: A unique retirement village with various housing options and numerous activities
WHERE: Waerenga Rd, Te Kauwhata 3781, New Zealand