Housing with care providers say urgent action is needed to expand new models of care
17 June, 2020
The UK needs to take urgent action to prevent falling even further behind other countries in the delivery of new models of social care – a need which has been clearly demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic according to retirement village operators, major investors, charitable providers and some Parliamentarians.
A cross-party group of MPs today tabled an Early Day Motion calling attention to the issue.
Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) says that, during the pandemic, housing with care schemes such as retirement villages or extra care housing have demonstrated that they can combine the effective shielding of older people with the provision of flexible onsite care and support and a wide range of services to keep residents active and socially connected. ARCO says housing with care schemes fill the gap between domiciliary care and care homes, taking the pressure off and complementing these more established forms of support for older people.
However, only approx. 0.6% of older people live in housing with care developments in the UK, while this figure stands at 5% or more in countries such as New Zealand, the US and Australia.
ARCO chair Nick Sanderson said that, prior to the pandemic, the housing-with-care sector was set to deliver 125,000 additional housing units by 2030, equating to infrastructure investment of £40 billion but now, as a result of increased uncertainty in the UK economy and housing market after the crisis, there was the risk of delivery of units to be £6 billion lower by 2025.
“The Government must not miss this opportunity to create systemic change rather than papering over the cracks of a system that is broken,” said Mr Sanderson.
“It is living in unsuitable housing, particularly as people age, that places intolerable pressure on the NHS and social care systems. This pressure has been building for decades. Housing with care is a model that is proven to work; not least in keeping people safe in the current pandemic.
“We must effect change from the ground up, increasing provision of this type of housing to take the pressure off hospitals and residential care.”
To ensure that growth does not stall, the housing with care sector has developed a Growth Action Plan including a series of immediate actions the government can take to back the sector and secure its future growth. This would capitalise on the interest of investors, who are twice as likely to increase investment in housing with care as in social care more generally, according to new research by real estate firm CBRE, which found that 95% of investors would be more likely to invest if there was more clarity around housing with care in the planning system, while well over half would be more likely to invest if there was more clarity on regulation and fee structures. The sector is calling on the government to adopt a series of immediately actionable, low or no cost measures including:
• Boosting consumer confidence by implementing announced – but not yet enacted – reforms to create clarity on fee structures and consumer protection.
• Enabling a flexible approach to tenure models to provide greater choice to customers.
• Reducing planning uncertainty by clarifying the status of housing with care in the planning system.
Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor Hanover, the UK’s biggest charity providing housing and care services to older people, said government had an opportunity and an obligation to demonstrate its commitment to older people’s wellbeing following the pandemic.
“Demand for high quality specialist housing and care is extremely strong,” said Ms Ashcroft.
“Increasing supply has the potential to improve outcomes for older people and the economic health of the UK.
“The measures being called for today do not require vast sums of money, simply political will.”
Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General, a major investor in the sector said the UK needed to achieve better outcomes for its ageing population and that the pandemic had shone a light over the UK’s need for greater health resilience, including better housing for older people and independent care options.
“We need to unlock the major barriers – from fiscal to regulatory – to enable people to move into the right housing to suit their changing needs and accelerate the growth of a new generation of purpose-built stock,” said Mr Wilson.
Bob Blackman MP, who tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue agreed that the pandemic had helped to draw attention to the need for more good housing and care options for older people.
“There are many people who want to go on leading active and independent lives but to have the peace of mind that care and support is there if they need it,” said Mr Blackman.
“We need more retirement communities to help keep people out of care homes for longer and to reduce pressures on the NHS. I hope that many of my colleagues will support this call.”
David Hope moved into the ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s Wixams Retirement Village with his wife June, in July 2019. They are very pleased with their decision:
“We’re thrilled to bits with our apartment, it is beautifully built,” said Mr Hope
“We’ve met a lot of people, joining in with the quiz nights, and I also enjoy playing a game of snooker. The staff are absolutely fantastic – they’re a delight to associate with and since we’ve been here they could not have been more helpful.
“With my existing medical conditions, having care and well-being services available to us at the village is absolutely vital. If my wife’s health deteriorates, it’s essential for us to know that there will be care on offer. The important thing is we won’t be a burden to our respective children because we have everything we need here.
“I think more older people should have the opportunity to live in a retirement village like ours.”