UK’s housing with care sector could save NHS millions

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Driven by demographic changes and a chance to invest responsibly, billions of pounds are set to pour into the UK’s emerging housing with care sector, according to the ‘Later Living: Housing with Care’ guide

The ‘Later Living: Housing with Care’ guide, published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), estimates there will be a shortfall of almost 70,000 homes with care in the next decade.

Support could move the housing with care sector from being predominantly sales-led to an operational long-term income model, with a focus on the quality of management of services and amenities, according to the guide.

One in four Britons is predicted to be 65 or over by 2037. This is creating a clear need for more housing with care for older generations, which could alleviate pressure on public services like the NHS.

Research shows those living with care run by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, save the NHS £1,994 per person on average, over five years, reducing NHS spending for residents by nearly two-fifths.

Given that these developments will be housing the elderly, providing quality care facilities such as 24-hour care, alongside other amenities will be crucial.

With the baby boomer generation wanting to pursue an active and fulfilled lifestyle in old age, combining good design principles with activities and enlivening initiatives is vital to creating aspirational places to live.

Legislation in the housing with care

The report also outlines that precise legislation and planning guidelines that apply to organisations that manage housing with care developments will be needed to meet the demand of an ageing population.

Current legislation governing the sector poses challenges as it creates a complicated process for housing with care operators to achieve planning and deliver the homes needed.

Sector-specific legislation will provide a more stable set of rules, which increases consumer confidence and provides consistency for operators and other stakeholders.

Despite the lack of legislation, the UK has the added advantage of a blank canvas to develop a thriving later living sector akin to the mature markets overseas.

Through a combination of more precise legislation, planning guidelines, good design and well-managed operations, housing with care has the potential to be a fast-growing asset class.

Vanessa Hale, UK chair of the ULI, said: “The great advancements in technology and medicine have resulted in the UK population living longer.

“The unfortunate aspect is that we are stretching the NHS and have not built enough suitable accommodation for us to comfortably age into.

“However, through better quality housing with integrated care services, our massively expanding senior population can have an attractive variety of options enabling them to thrive during their later years.”

Kevin Beirne, director, head of retirement at Octopus Real Estate, added: “We know from our research that older people don’t want to live in isolated retirement ‘ghettos’ away from local amenities – but the challenge of providing enough onsite facilities makes it hard to find the right sites as there is no firm policy support in favour of senior living.

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