Room to flourish: Social connection at the heart of new Christchurch retirement village

A leading innovator in retirement living, the Qestral corporation creates conditions for flourishing social connections in its newest village, Banbury Park in Halswell

PEOPLE WHO FARE best in retirement are those who find ways to cultivate social connections with others, according to an eight-decades-long scientific study.

Dr Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the ground-breaking Study of Adult Development, says social connection is the No.1 factor making people happy in life. An opportunity to interact with others not only makes people happier but also keeps them healthier.

“This is true of both physical and mental health,” explains Dr Waldinger in his What Makes a Good Life TED talk, which has been viewed more than 45 million times and is among the top 10 most-watched TED talks ever.

The lounge is a busy and popular meeting place in the Banbury Park care facility.

This is not news to the Qestral Corporation, renowned for its cutting-edge technology, spacious village layouts and unique home designs in premium locations in Nelson and Christchurch.

“People are social beings,” says Simon O’Dowd, Qestral’s managing director. “It is in our DNA that we want to go to the village square, the farmers’ market, or the local village pub to meet with neighbours. Living alone in a residential street, where no one might be home in the neighbourhood for the whole day as everyone is at work or school can be lonely.

In our villages, we create spaces where it feels natural for residents to wander and meet people in a secure environment.”

Barista-made coffee from the Banbury Park coffee cart is a much-appreciated free treat for residents.

At Qestral’s newest village, Banbury Park in the Christchurch suburb of Halswell, award-winning architectural and urban-planning firm +MAP partners created areas where residents can meet and form social connections. These cul-de-sac-like streets, generally just 10 to 12 homes in each area, have very wide roads and designated footpaths. This makes it an attractive and safe proposition to go for a wander and meet up with neighbours. Qestral purposively designs its villages to be spacious. Whereas typical retirement villages might have 250 square metres of land per house (including roads), Qestral villages, on average, have 500 square metres of land per house. All this adds to community neighbourhoods, where people feel safe going outside to meet their neighbours.

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“We know how important relationships are, and our goal is to provide the optimal environment for them to flourish,” says Simon.

The central atrium in the care facility is a light-filled space.

At the same time, Qestral homes are individual, allowing residents to choose from a range of sunny and gracious bespoke options ranging in size from 116 square metres to 230 square metres.

“We don’t want anything cookie-cutter, though the village has an overall design cohesion. With such a significant area per home, residents can create their own gardens should they wish. They certainly don’t have to, though, as good retirement living is not about feeling guilt for unmown lawns.”

In fact, few people wish to stay home to mow their lawns, thanks to the social teams at Qestral villages, who are dedicated to planning exciting outings, events, entertainment, and travel opportunities, including trips abroad. Mostly, residents are too busy deciding between a cruise on the Murray River or a trip to Mitre Peak to worry about anything at all.

● Banbury Park facilities include a standalone state-of-the-art care centre opened earlier in the year and the new dementia centre, ‘The Banbury’, which opened in September. Residents appreciate Qestral’s commitment to providing ongoing care options.
● Unique to a Qestral retirement village is Spritely, technology developed by the group specifically for in-home resident use. It is a one-screen system, super simple to use and an effective communication and health management tool.


Rachael Deller
027 407 3935

Kate Dowman
027 408 6684

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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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