“Abbeyfield offers companionship, security and independence for older people through affordable housing.”

An Abbeyfield House

An Abbeyfield House aims to be “a typical house in a typical street” offering companionship, independence and support in rental accommodation at a price affordable to most older people.

A warm supportive family-style independent lifestyle is provided for up to fourteen retirees, usually in their 60's, 70’s, or 80’s and beyond.  "It's just like a big family". 

The house is staffed by a housekeeper/cook who takes care of the shopping and prepares the two main meals of the day, taken at the family dining table. Like any family home, there is a communal lounge, dining room, kitchen and laundry and in some houses a guest room for visitors. Residents are involved in the management of their house and can comment on the selection of who may join their household.

Our key point of difference with other providers can be summed up by the word "time". Our staff and volunteers commit time to our residents - listening to them, sharing with them, encouraging them and serving them. Individually and as a group, Abbeyfield residents are respected and valued; their ideas are sought and opinions listened to.

Abbeyfield Residents

The “mix” of residents is a major factor in the happiness of an Abbeyfield House. The selection is made by the House Committee and residents after the applicant has trialled the lifestyle by living for one to two weeks in the House.

Abbeyfield Houses are designed for people 65 years and older, but are particularly suitable to those receiving national superannuation payments; the current age range in New Zealand’s Abbeyfield Houses is currently 65 - 90+ years.

Residents enjoy reasonably good health; any health conditions must be self-monitoring and they need to be able to maintain their own medication regimes. Mobility aids such as walking frames, electric wheelchairs and scooters are catered for in the House design. The Society does not provide personal care services. However residents are assisted to access home support services.

The Housekeeper

The housekeeper is a key figure in shaping the success and happiness of an Abbeyfield House. Sometimes living in, the housekeeper 
prepares the main two meals of the day, does the household shopping and is responsible for the cleaning of all communal living areas. 

She or he maintains daily records detailing house events and operations, conducts regular fire drills, is familiar with the fire alarm system and other safety measures and ensures that the general standards of health, hygiene and safety are maintained in the House.

The guiding principles


The vision and principles established by Abbeyfield founder Richard Carr-Gomm (above) remain true, and each country and it's affiliate Societies operate according to ‘The Guiding Principles':

Abbeyfield is a voluntary effort by people of goodwill to assist older people to achieve a fulfilling way of life.  Our mission, which underpins everything we do is:  
"To enhance the quality of life for older people"

Our guiding principles - our ethos

 Members of the Abbeyfield Movement, of all faiths and none, acknowledging the importance of this founding principle, believe that;

    • All people, including older people, have intrinsic value and worth and should be supported in their desire to live in dignity and with respect.
    • Older people have an important and unique role to play in relation to families and the wider community.
    • For a variety of reasons, many older people suffer from loneliness and insecurity. At a time of increasing longevity the medical, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of older people should be given high priority.
    • Within the wider community, individuals should be encouraged and helped to share their own gifts and skills with the older people

    The Abbeyfield method of operation is:

  • To establish local Abbeyfield Societies and to involve volunteers in setting up and managing houses, where the residents will pay their share of the costs
  • Every household will have its own housekeeper to look after the house, and to provide the main meals, and to care generally for the residents
  • Each resident will have their own room, furnished as they wish, where both their privacy and their right to invite visitors are assured
  • Such houses are intended to become focal points of goodwill and friendly contact within the local community.

Frequently asked questions

The questions most frequently asked by those considering making their home in an Abbeyfield House

What accommodation is provided in an Abbeyfield House?
 a. A private studio with ensuite facilities for each resident, usually with a small patio and garden area.
 b. Shared dining and sitting rooms, kitchen, laundry and usually a guest room.
 c. Shared garden areas.

Is there any staff support?
Yes. A housekeeper/cook is employed to do the shopping and plan and prepare the two main meals of the day (residents get their own breakfast from supplied ingredients). In some houses the housekeeper has their own flat attached to the House. The housekeeper is responsible for all the shared rooms in the House, generally supports the residents and manages the house under the supervision of the local Society's House Management Committee.

How many people are accommodated in an Abbeyfield House?
We currently have homes accommodating between 9 and 14 residents. Most have 11 or 12 resident studios.    

How fit must residents be?
The residents must be able to care for themselves independently. That is, move about (even with a wheelchair), toilet, bathe, dress, self medicate, groom and feed themselves, and be reasonably clear mentally. 

What happens if a resident becomes ill?
Minor ailments are handled in much the same way as in a family home. If you have to go to hospital for any reason it is expected that you will return to Abbeyfield, provided that you don’t need ongoing assistance beyond that which can be provided by visits from a visiting nurse.

Who can make their home in an Abbeyfield House?
Men or women over the age of 65 years who usually have ties with the area in which the House is located. Most residents are people over the age of 70 years but houses usually manage a waiting list so it pays to register your interest early. 

Can married couples be accommodated?
Couples may apply. They are usually given two rooms and may choose whether they would like to use one room as their bedroom and the other as their sitting room or have separate bed-sitting rooms. However, if two rooms are not available in the same House, it is unlikely we can accommodate a couple.

Who furnishes the House?
Residents furnish their own rooms. The Abbeyfield Society furnishes the shared rooms.

What happens if someone doesn't have any furniture to bring?
The Society may be able to assist with basic furniture.

What are the rules of the House?
Whatever the members of the House decide, but these are usually no more than those of normal courtesy and mutual respect.

Do I have to look after my own suite?
Yes. The housekeeper does not clean residents’ rooms or handle their personal laundry. You may engage domestic help at your own cost if you wish, or a relative or friend may be able to assist you, or you may qualify for DHB-funded home-help. 

Are pets allowed in the House?
Each household makes its own decisions in relation to pets. A bird or goldfish usually present no problem, but you will need to enquire as to the local policy in relation to a dog or a cat.

Is smoking forbidden?
Yes. Abbeyfield properties are entirely smoke free. 

Who runs the House?
The local Abbeyfield Society. It handles all applications, employs the staff, maintains the property, and takes an active interest in the well-being of residents. 

What’s a Personal Advocate?
Each incoming resident is asked to nominate a trusted friend, relative or professional adviser who can be contacted and consulted in case of an emergency or difficulty, by either the resident or the Society. No financial involvement is required on their part.

How do I apply for residency?
Please contact your local Abbeyfield Society and complete an application form. Then a meeting will be arranged to take things further. 

Can I try the lifestyle first?
Yes - in fact we always ask that prospective residents stay in the house for a trial period of one to two weeks before deciding to move in. A guest room or vacant suite may be used to trial the lifestyle.

Can my friends and family come and stay?
Yes. Friends and family are able to stay in the guest room where there is one, or they may be able to share your room for a short period where space allows.

How much does it cost each week to live in an Abbeyfield House?
The charges vary from House to House but are generally cheaper than the commercial equivalent due to voluntary management by the Abbeyfield Society and the non-profit co-operative philosophy of Abbeyfield. Abbeyfield rents are kept below the amount available from National Superannuation plus the accommodation supplement which is available to needy retirees.

Is a capital contribution required?
No. All a resident pays is their fortnightly rent. There is no means testing: prospective residents are prioritised according to need: social (eg degree of isolation) and ability to access suitable accommodation which they can afford. 

Do I sign a contract?
A residential tenancy agreement is to be signed before you move in. 

Do all local Abbeyfield Societies operate in the same way?
All local Societies are bound by the Guiding Principles, but they are independent bodies and are responsive to local conditions which can cause minor differences in practice. All local Societies are registered Charities affiliated to Abbeyfield NZ Incorporated and bound by its policies and guidelines for best practices and standards.

Why isn't there an Abbeyfield House in my area?
Abbeyfield NZ is keen to expand into more parts of New Zealand. We warmly welcome approaches from people interested in forming a local steering committee. Please contact the national office for more information about starting an Abbeyfield house in your community. 


Abbeyfield New Zealand
Level One,
40 Halifax Street

PO Box 482
Nelson 7040
New Zealand
Temporary phone number: +64 3 922 9859
E: office@abbeyfield.org.nz
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