Housing for the ageing population

By Ruby BurdettConsultant 

In March 2021, our client, Inspired Villages, hosted a workshop entitled ‘Housing-with-care’ at the Conservative Councillor’s Association (CCA) Local Government Conference. The presentation highlighted the current lack of provision of housing for older people, the limited choice and flexibility, and the impacts this is having on society.  

Currently, living options for older people are limited: they can stay in their own home, they can move into retirement or sheltered accommodation, or they can move into a care home. As such, older people understandably tend to stay in their home for as long as possible. They rattle around a large family home which they do not need, and which becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. This has the added effect of holding back much needed larger family homes from the market. 

A new option is emerging in the UK, ’retirement communities or housing-with-care. These provide new more flexible care options which enable residents to downsize, remain independent and in their own homes for longer, but also frees up much needed homes in the market for families.   

With the rapid ageing of the population also comes an increased demand for health services. The delivery of housing-with-care could provide significant relief to local health services. According to Inspired Villages, the care facilities available on site can reduce the pressure on the NHS by up to 38%. By reducing GP visits, the availability of local services can be freed up. 

In March 2021, The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) wrote to the Prime Minister, calling on the Government to expand housing options for the aging population. It will be interesting to see whether the Prime Minister is on board with improving and expanding the retirement community sector. 

The benefits of retirement communities are significant. Not only do they allow older people the dignity of independence and an alternative choice in their housing for later life, but they have the capacity to play an important role in the solution to the housing shortage and reducing stress on the NHS. As the population continues to age rapidly, retirement communities offer a significant solution to grow the limited supply of housing and care options in the UK.