Retirement communities key to fixing social care crisis, argues report

Retirement communities could play a key role in tackling many of the current issues around adult social care, according to a new report.

The report produced by the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) and the County Councils Network (CCN) argues that such communities can help keep people out of hospital longer.

According to the report, just 0.6% of over 65s – 75,000 people – live in a retirement community at the moment, many of which have care services and amenities on site.

It says councils and providers should be given the tools to incentivise and accelerate these communities, as research shows that residents in these developments spend up to 12 days less on average in hospital due to unplanned accidents compared to those in regular housing.

Both organisations argue that these types of community should form part of the conversation on future reform of adult social care after COVID-19.

This is because having more over 65s in retirement communities will allow more people to live independently for longer and in accommodation that provides care on site.

This means that they are living in places whereby if they develop care needs, they can be easily looked rather than living in homes that become unsuitable the more complex their care requirements become – leading to expensive hospital stays.

ARCO estimates that should 250,000 people live in retirement communities by 2030, it could free up over 560,000 bedrooms back onto the market.

‘Retirement communities are currently a fringe part of the adult social care conversation, but the benefits they can bring to people’s wellbeing, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, and freeing up half a million bedrooms shows that they should be a prime part of the solution to many of the societal challenges we face,’ said CCN chairman, Cllr David Williams.

‘Today’s report contains some bold yet easily implementable recommendations, not least in introducing a new planning classification to cut down on confusion, bureaucracy, and a clear specification for councils to include in their assessment of housing and care needs. These reforms could help turbocharge the development of retirement communities over the next decade.

‘When looking at examples of other countries, it is clear the concept has yet to take off in England. But a small step change, aided by freedoms and tools from government, could usher in big results,’ added Cllr Williams.

The full report – Planning for retirement: How retirement communities can help meet the needs of our ageing population is available to read here.

Photo Credit – ArtTower (Pixabay)

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