In a joint report published today, the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) and the County Councils Network (CCN) argue that the development of “retirement communities” should play a more central role in Government’s housing strategy and how care is delivered in England. The report follows shortly on the heels of a letter to the Prime Minister from policy group Homes for Later Living urging Government to build at least 30,000 new retirement homes per year. By making resources available to councils and providers to incentivise and accelerate the provision of such communities, the report suggests that over-65s will be able to live independently and remain out of hospital for longer.
Any measures to address the housing demands of a changing demographic (it is widely accepted that the UK has an ageing population) should, we suggest, be welcomed. Whilst the Government’s housing strategy does still need to tackle the shortage of housing available to under-65s, in particular affordable housing, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated, amongst other things, that there is a need to consider how care in the UK is delivered and alternatives to the traditional models. By considering ways in which care can be delivered earlier and outside of the hospital environment, resources could potentially be better managed. Such an approach would also help to free up other parts of the housing sector. And with an estimated 3million-plus over-60s wanting to downsize, there is clearly an opportunity for providers and developers.
The retirement community sector is ready to play its part in partnership with councils in delivering good housing-with-care to hundreds of thousands more older people.