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Column 12th July 2023

A shortage of Senior Housing?

The last time that I wrote a column about housing suitable for the older generation was in 2017 when a government paper entitled the “Future of an Ageing Population” stated that ‘Suitable housing can significantly improve life in older age, while unsuitable housing can be the source of multiple problems and costs. Poor quality housing costs the NHS an estimated £2.5 billion per year.’

Earlier this year, the government announced the creation of the “Older People’s Housing Taskforce”, spearheading work to support the growth of a thriving older people’s housing sector across the country.

Now property firm Cushman & Wakefield and property lobby group the British Property Federation have issued a report which suggest that there is "a clear need to increase the delivery of seniors housing”.

It defines 'senior housing', as both 'retirement housing' - self-contained homes with a warden and emergency call system that have limited communal facilities – and 'integrated retirement communities' (IRCs) which are currently called extra care facilities or assisted living.

In 2017 I found that only 7 percent of older people lived in specialised housing, this new report says that there are only enough housing units to cater for 5.6 percent of seniors.

They suggest that the Government should set a target for 50,000 new units of this type per year to meet demand from over-65s – that means 1 in 6 new homes.

I know many over 65’s who have no intention of moving into this kind of facility until they are much older so this target may be overstated.

We have new care-homes, retirement communities and extra-care facilities being built on many of the new developments in this area but also over-65’s moving into ordinary new homes.

Many of them have moved here not to obtain care in Senior housing but to provide child care and support to their children and grandchildren who already live here.

These over-65’s and some over-80’s hope it will be many years before they need to move into housing with care facilities.

Anyway, we have an even greater shortage of carers than we have of care places, so perhaps there needs to be a balance of improving the attractiveness of caring as a profession and making sure there are enough carers to support the residents of existing Senior housing before we start imposing targets for the number of units being built.


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