2021 May be breakthrough year for communities designed for seniors :CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities

Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities>
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As life expectancy increases, people are striving to live healthier lives for longer. Especially among the well-to-do, educated and retired lot, the senior living concept is gradually finding acceptance. For a long time, retirement communities or assisted living in senior living homes was considered a taboo especially because it lent an impression of being an old age home. However, there is a distinct difference. While old age homes house seniors who do not have the means to look after themselves, senior living communities are for seniors looking for smarter ways to stay at home. It’s not just about better quality of life – It’s everything from affordability to a community that often feels warmer than average.


Retirement communities provide people with an opportunity to live in a friendly environment where skilled staff are always available to assist, and oftentimes need. In addition, retirement homes offer various amenities depending on the needs of the resident. With eldercare staff and chefs available, residents can enjoy food prepared fresh daily. Some retirement communities also have medical care facilities and wellness programs for those who need rehabilitation.


With time, seniors in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pondicherry etc are now increasingly considering senior homes. Real Estate Forum India (REFI) got in touch with Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities to understand more about senior living in India and its prospects.


REFI: How has the concept of senior-living been received in India?

Mohit Nirula: The demand for and success of senior living communities is primarily on account of it being a hospitality and healthcare solution that residents need to ensure a zero-headache lifestyle and which guarantees peace of mind for them and their families spread across the world. We have found an increasing demand for this solution – both from customers and developers who wish to have a senior living community as a part of their larger product offering in integrated townships.


Columbia Pacific Communities, as India’s largest operator of communities designed for seniors, has the privilege of serving over 3,000 residents in 1,600 homes in nine communities in the five cities of Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Kanchipuram and Puducherry.


Our tenth project, India’s first senior living community designed to international standards is currently on sale in Bengaluru.  The financial year of 2021 – 22 will see the launch of three more projects in Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru.  In the year thereafter, we will add more projects in the cities we already operate in besides expanding to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.


REFI: What are the facilities for seniors and what is the starting price of such services?

Mohit Nirula: The bouquet of services at a well-managed senior living community must deliver on the following three promises:

1. A zero-headache lifestyle where all your daily chores and needs are addressed by the service provider.  This liberates you from doing things that you have to do and frees you to do the things you have always wanted to do.


2.A wellness and wellbeing programme designed around the philosophy of Positive Ageing – an approach to life that encourages and enables you to be physically strong, mentally alert, and intellectually stimulated in a socially engaging community thereby keeping you healthier for longer.


3.A 24/7 para-medical team and daily doctor’s visits to ensure your current and emergent medical needs are identified early and addressed speedily thereby giving peace of mind to you and your family.  In times of need, the community stands by you.


REFI: Can legal heirs of inhabitants inherit such a property?

Mohit Nirula: Like any real estate asset, the property transfers to the legal heirs.  The Service Agreement and the Asset Sale Deed are intertwined in order to protect the nature and purpose of the community.  Legal heirs may choose to sell the property or place it on rent.  At Columbia Pacific Communities, we have a dedicated team that maintains a data bank of people wishing to rent or buy in existing communities and we are happy to assist owners in this process.


REFI: What should one consider before moving into a senior living community?

Mohit Nirula: Once you have assessed if the service design of the community is such that all your needs will be met by the service provider, the most important thing is to move into the community sooner rather than later.


After all, the whole purpose of moving into such a community is to be able to leave the worries of daily chores to others and be free to pursue one’s passions and interests.  If one has fulfilled one’s responsibilities towards children, parents, career, society and nation, it is only fair that you take out time and embrace a lifestyle that is focussed on you.


Also, the earlier you move in, the more friends you make and then enjoy their company forever.


REFI: What are the trends like in 2021 when it comes to senior living?

Mohit Nirula: The year 2021 looks likely to be the breakthrough year for communities designed for seniors.  The experience of the past 18 months and the realisation that a community that fulfils all needs of seniors particularly in times of adversity is resulting in senior living communities to be the preferred solution for seniors and their children alike.