Retirement village bosses defend keeping gym and pool open

How the other 1% live! – Owl

Reassurances have been made following safety concerns raised over an Exeter retirement village which has kept its swimming pool and gym open during the second lockdown.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

Millbrook Village in Topsham Road, a retirement community operated by Inspired Villages, offers an extensive range of facilities for its residents including a relaxation pool, fine dining restaurant, gym and studio, a library, a private cinema, and a concierge service.

It also usually offers an inclusive programme of social activities and events.

While leisure facilities across England had to close as of last Thursday due to current lockdown restrictions, some degree of normality has been able to continue at Millbrook Village.

Devon Live has been contacted by a member of the public concerned that the on-site gym and swimming pool remaining open would pose a health risk to residents.

But management say that, with the introduction of extra measures, the facilities are safe to use.

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of residents and colleagues are our top priorities. We have taken serious action to protect lives and keep our retirement communities free from outbreaks of Covid-19 and are pleased to report we have had no cases at the village.

“To maintain this protective shield, we have extra cleaning and infection control measures in place. The bar and restaurant are closed, residents get a ‘buddy call’ from a village team member every day, and the team is delivering grocery essentials and cooked meals to doorsteps for residents who would like this support.

“The mental wellbeing of our residents has been another important focus for us. The exercise room, swimming pool and residents’ lounge are not premises open to the public, but are extensions of residents’ homes which support their mental and physical wellbeing during this challenging time.

“To keep residents safe, we have introduced a single household booking system, with spaces thoroughly cleaned between sessions. Online exercise classes have also been made available to residents if they would prefer to exercise in their own home.”

Millbrook Village was built in 2014 and has 206 luxury two-and three-bedroom cottages and one-and two-bedroom apartments for those aged 55 and above.

The retirement village says it is proud of how it tackled the first lockdown imposed in March and how it kept its residents safe and happy.

Leah Jackson, a dedicated wellness navigator, who is responsible for supporting the requirements and interests of residents previously told Devon Life: “The pandemic brought about many restrictions to public movement. Our main concern was how we could help residents stay connected and remain active whilst keeping everyone safe and well.

“From online Pilates classes to a pop-up shop with all the essentials people were struggling to find in supermarkets, which we deliver to residents’ doorsteps, we are offering a variety of services to maintain the high standard of living for which Millbrook is renowned. Having a video catch-up with a G&T in hand is also proving to be a popular alternative to popping to the neighbour’s house.”

She continued: “Due to our close-knit on-site community and support network, we were able to tackle the challenge really effectively – the village team really pulled together to support the residents, who were really understanding of why we were introducing the safety measures we did.

“If anything, lockdown highlighted just how much Millbrook Village can cater to our residents’ needs without needing to leave the grounds. “

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