The new world of seniors living: Transforming, diversifying and generating alternative revenue streams.


Rock concerts, internationally acclaimed flower shows, corporate cricket matches and equestrian competitions… Does your village have the space to host these events? Chances are, it doesn’t.

A one-of-a-kind seniors’ village in the United Kingdom does and boy, do they capitalise on the opportunities it presents!

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is located on a sprawling 66-acre site in prestigious Chelsea, London. The beautiful architectural legacy is home to some 300 army veterans who are fondly and famously known as The Chelsea Pensioners.

Their village model is unique and quite unlike – nor transferrable to – anything we have in Australia; residents are required to wear uniforms every day, live in small bedrooms and give up most of their pension on admission.

The expansive estate costs a whopping £22million per year to run and maintain, and with only £12million in government funding, the village has had to think unconventionally to remain viable:

Capitalise on prime land offerings.

The transformational approach to diversifying their funding stream makes this village particularly interesting.

  • Four times a year The Royal Hospital host large-scale music events including Live at the Chelsea rock concert and various classical instrumental performances;
  • Since 1912, the village has been the grounds of the world-renowned Chelsea Flower Show, a favourite with the English Royals, this event is a large contributor to annual funding;
  • For £5000 you can host a corporate cricket match with hospitality provided by the Chelsea Pensioners including serving of drinks, cooking your BBQ and support/sledging from the sidelines.
  • Weddings can be accommodated in the Chapel, and photo shoots on the prestigious lawns and in stunning gardens, and much more on offer.

Not only do these events provide the additional funding to remain viable; it brings in the public. They have truly opened the gates and connected with the wider community and the Pensioners couldn’t be happier.

The constant activity and varying events in the village brings excitement to the day to day lives of the people who call this place home. I was speaking with the residents and they have so much pride in hosting such events and being a valued part in organising and running them.

The village has also recently leased part of their land to a local developer who will provide high end apartments for sale to the public – the funding of which paid for a new facility on the site to care for residents with high care needs and dementia.

While there wouldn’t be many, if any, providers in Australia fortunate enough to sit upon a 66-acre major city fringe site to hold events like that, it did get me thinking…

How long can we continue to rely exclusively on customers entering and exiting our villages as a source of income?

Are providers in the Australian market capitalising on their assets and land offerings?

Can we learn and adapt from the Royal Hospital Chelsea and create additional funding streams?

Most Australian retirement villages have external grassed communal areas, internal roadways, community halls and some even have chapels – so what events could we be holding in these areas of our villages?

Could you start a monthly arts and craft market? Close off half of your internal roadways for the day and charge sellers of various goods to set up their stalls. I suspect there would be several of your residents who loved doing craft or baking and could set up a stall of their own.

Is there possibility for an annual food and wine festival? Bring in produce from surrounding communities.

Invite food trucks to setup on your grounds every other month with local musicians creating a relaxed family friendly vibe.

Or – as mentioned in my last edition – perhaps you have facilities like a cinema, restaurant or wellness centre which could be opened to the wider community?

Thinking unconventionally is going to play a big part in the future of seniors living. The industry – providers – need to be challenging traditional thinking, seeking to expand knowledge and sharing ideas about new approaches to integrated care models.

Be sure to catch my next post, where I will be looking to other industries for transferable innovations and service offerings that can be integrated into the seniors living sector.

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