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Dinenage: retirement communities set to play major role

July 26, 2019

Retirement communities have a major role to play in meeting the housing and care needs of our ageing population. The Government is committed to helping deliver more of them and they will feature in the Social Care Green Paper when it appears.

These were the messages from care minister Caroline Dinenage to 500 leaders of the housing-with-care sector at ARCO’s (Association of Retirement Community Operators) What Next? 2019 Conference at Royal Horticultural Halls, London.

The minister said housing-with-care has never played a more important role in health and social care, helping to keep older people healthier, more active and less lonely, as well as freeing up family homes.

Now that care homes are increasingly focused on end-of-life care, the minister added that retirement communities fill the gap between living independently at home and care homes.

Ms Dinenage said the Social Care Green Paper would outline the role operators can play and that the Government was committed to helping to expand the supply of retirement communities, looking at measures such as a clearer definition for planners and appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks which guarantees residents’ rights – something ARCO says it has been campaigning for since its inception.

These sentiments were echoed in a message from housing minister Kit Malthouse who called on the sector to be ambitious in its expansion plans, particularly in the mid-market and that he expected local authorities to take much more account of the housing needs of older people in their local plans and in identifying suitable sites.

Other key speakers included Optimal Ageing Programme director Sir Muir Gray who called for a change to the language around care to promote active ageing, suggesting ‘retirement’ becomes ‘renaissance’ and ‘care’ becomes ‘wellbeing’. Janice Chia, founder and managing director of Ageing Asia Alliance also spoke of the different types of retirement facilities in South East Asia and the initiatives to encourage exercise through competitions and even gambling.

Sector leaders Audley Villages chief executive Nick Sanderson, Anchor Hanover chief executive Jane Ashcroft and Hallmark Care Homes chair Avnish Goyal also spoke or took part in panel discussions throughout the day along with many other experts.

ARCO executive director Michael Voges said the retirement communities sector was ready to play a major role in tackling the housing and social care challenges at the same time.

“If the Government follows through on the commitments made today we will see an unprecedented boom in our sector over the coming decade,” said Mr Voges.

“Hundreds of thousands of older people will benefit as a result. Our ambitious growth plans, which we refer to as Vision 2030, are already set to deliver billions of pounds of savings to the health and social care systems and to free up hundreds of thousands of houses – but we know we can go even further.”

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