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Bupa – it’s not about retirement, it’s about living

June, 2021

By: Michael Briggs

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From the moment you walk in the door of Bupa Hugh Green Retirement Village on the North Shore of Auckland, the tastefully decorated interior, calming music and smiling faces make it feel more like a high-end health spa than a place for older people.

That is not by accident, everything about the Bupa experience is designed to promote longer, healthier, and happier lives.

As we are led past the gym, heated indoor pool, tranquil gardens, movie theatre, hair salon and library you could be mistaken for thinking you are in a five-star resort, and with 12 years between me and retirement, I am already plotting ways to stay.

Bupa manage 37 villages and 48 care homes across New Zealand, supporting more than 5,000 residents who either live in independent apartments and villas, or warm and welcoming care homes. They cater for the active semi-retired all the way to people living with dementia and those who need a little more support and assistance. “We have designed the outdoor area in the dementia community to minimise stress,” says Dawn Carey, Operations Manager. “The paths are all circular and never end so residents don’t have to make decisions about turning left or right and they can’t get lost. We find it helps keep them calm,” she says.

The manicured plants, fruit trees and touch lighting along the path creates an oasis and, from the calm expression of the dementia care residents, I see it seems to be working.

Everyone we meet on our tour with Carolyn Cooper, Managing Director for Bupa Villages & Aged Care New Zealand, Suzy Clarkson, Head of Customer Engagement & Public Affairs and Dawn Carey, Operations Manager, is relaxed, friendly and engaging.

Two cats stroll the property and are officially rostered on the staff work schedule and residents can have dogs, the canines just need to be interviewed first to make sure they are a ‘good fit for the village’.

With a hundred rooms made up of one and two-bedroom units, most feature balconies or ground floor gardens and are bigger than my last three apartments. Prices range from around $380-690K and once you move in, you may never want to leave.

“We have a café on the ground floor for residents, guests and staff. Originally it was just for guests, but we wanted to maximise interaction between our groups, so we opened it up to everyone and now it is working well. Wherever possible we use architecture and design to promote engagement,” Dawn says.

The tour culminates with lunch in one of the dining rooms where we are joined by three residents, one a published author, one a former British Airways Sales Manager and one the head of the Residents’ Association. 

The food is great, the conversation more so, as the author who suffered a stroke 2 months ago tells me she attributes her miraculous recovery to the Bupa Hugh Green Village.

“This place has really helped me recover, I started to feel better the moment I moved in,” she says, a walking stick the only legacy I can see from her health issues.

As we are led down one of the wide hallways, I stop in front of the mission statement for Bupa on the wall and Suzy Clarkson explains they have recently refreshed their purpose from ‘helping people to live longer, healthier, happier lives’ to include ‘and making a better world’.

There’s certainly peace of mind in making a better world for the residents’ grandchildren and the next generation. BusinessNZ members, Bupa, have found the winning formula, by placing people first and the lavish building is just a shell in which they have built a real village and a strong community.

If you are looking to retire or care for someone close to retirement, I encourage you to contact Bupa to discuss their range of options on 0800 00 41 46 or visit their website for more information:

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