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Seniors from a Four-Star Boarding House

"For me the chapel is evidence that they do care at the House on the Hill. After all, once we are dead they would no longer have to, wouldn't they?" says Helena, a resident of the retirement home at Głogoczów.

The doctor is young, handsome and elegant. He knows a lot about different things. For instance, he knows about entrepreneurship and old age: together with his wife he has invested in a business that as recently as a few years ago would have been said to be risky. But the couple of doctors were not afraid of risk. At Głogoczów, a village near Kraków, they have built a four-star boarding house for the elderly, albeit other than the average statistical ones. For the elderly who are rich or have rich relatives.

The business turned out a success.

"Our society is ageing, with the number of people over seventy rapidly growing, and there is money to be made on the old age as well as on the youth," says Wojciech Dubiel, a physician, owner of the House on the Hill (always in a suit, always with neatly combed hair, always smiling, and wonderfully articulate). "Also on the elderly from abroad, because expatriates more and more often prefer to spend the last years of their lives at Polish boarding houses rather than at the American or even Australian ones," he adds.

Smile is a Rule

Głogoczów, a small village near Kraków, about two minutes from the Zakopianka highway, but in a place to be reached neither by the noise of the cars nor by the exhaust fumes. Most local people live in old houses, but quite a lot of buildings are brand new, surrounded with expensive fences, with paved drives. When doctor Dubiel was building the boarding house, the locals set up a squawk, saying that he was affording them a 'morgue' in the neighbourhood of their homes and that the main road of the village (the same road they use to bring bread from the bakery) would be now ridden by funeral coaches.

But he would not give up. He would pay visits to the locals - explaining, persuading, convincing them that it would be a good business to the local community, that the village would gain a new development project, that the taxes would bolster the budget of their municipality. He did build the house. "Certain issues" were solved in an elegant manner (and with such subtlety that noone complains about the funeral coaches).

In 1970s and 1980s, the house would have been referred to as dom spokojnej starości, which literally means "quiet old age home". But back then it would have looked very differently. And none of its residents would have enjoyed staying there so much.

"For this is no 'quiet old age home', no convalescent home or old people's home but a boarding house. Or a four-star hotel," say the residents of the House on the Hill. It has comforts and amenities, as well as aesthetic ambience. The European way. Where is this comfort and luxury to be found? The place does not drip with splendour and extravagance. The luxury is in the offer, in the approach to the client, in the respect.

Article was published in Gazeta.pl Kraków, more »»

 

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