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Retirement living developers move to fill the dependency gap

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

About five years ago, the team here at Caring Times had a meeting and decided to broaden the magazine’s focus to encompass retirement living, under whatever banner it marched; extracare, housing with care, retirement communities/villages, assisted living, whatever floated a particular provider’s boat.

We had not entirely ignored these areas in the past but it was becoming clear that retirement living was finding traction and that the care element was becoming an increasingly salient feature in what had hitherto been a property driven market. It had been property market forces which had pulled the reins on retirement living; the 2008 recession made older people reluctant to move from the properties they already owned, there was uncertainly about tenure and ‘event fees’, competition with residential development often meant land was prohibitively expensive and institutional investors were coy about supporting a sector they were unfamiliar with.

While those headwinds have not entirely abated, the market is now a little less unfriendly and, as retirement communities gain in popularity, for many developers care homes are being increasingly consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket. Problems with staffing, an overbearing and non-co-operative regulator, a challenging funding environment and negative public image have all combined to restrict new care home development largely to the top end of the market. Retirement living developers have also focused on luxury provision but are now beginning to look at more affordable models which will have a wider market. Staff availability, along with construction costs and regulatory compliance costs mean this option is generally not available to those who would build care homes.

Independence is everything to people of all ages. From the time we first take our first steps as toddlers, we want to stand on our own feet for as long as we can. There is evidence to suggest that retirement living communities can maintain and prolong independence, a marketing plus that care homes, shepherded ever further into the role of high-dependency care, do not enjoy to anywhere near the same extent.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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