Launch of new trade body for retirement communities
Caring Times, April 2013
The retirement community model of housing and care received a boost this week, with the launch of a new trade association for the sector. The launch of the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) at the House of Lords saw retirement community operators, residents and staff meeting with MPs, Peers and industry leaders.
At the meeting the group discussed how retirement communities can provide a credible solution to the pressing challenge of how we meet the lifestyle, health and care needs of older people.
ARCO has been established to promote confidence in the sector; increase the volume and quality of expertise within the sector; and to raise awareness of the retirement community model amongst policy makers, older people and stakeholders alike. ARCO strives to drive up standards of housing and care provision in the retirement community sector, and to this end all ARCO-registered schemes have to adhere to the standards of quality laid out in the ARCO Charter.
Retirement communities are also referred to as retirement villages; extra care housing; housing with care; assisted living; close care apartments; and independent living.
Attended by 140 guests, including 14 parliamentarians, the afternoon reception was hosted by Baroness Greengross OBE, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People. ARCO also welcomed Baroness Joan Hanham CBE, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, both of whom addressed guests with words of support for the retirement community sector.
All three speakers were strongly supportive of the ARCO model of housing with care, all noting the importance of helping older people retain their much valued independence. It was also acknowledged that integrated service delivery is critical in securing the best possible outcomes for older people, and that housing must be considered alongside health and social care priorities at both the local and national level.
ARCO particularly welcomed the demonstration of cross-party support for improving choice within the housing and care market place, and the commitment to ensuring that the retirement community model is made more widely available alongside other mainstream options.
Retirement communities serve a ‘new generation’
· In 2033 there will be 3.3 million people over the age of 85 in the UK; this is the fastest growing age group in the UK. The emergence of this brand new generation, who want more and expect more from their retirement, calls for an entirely different approach to housing and care.
· Our population is not only ageing, our tastes are also changing. ARCO believes that everyone should be able to live their later years to the full; within a positive and stimulating environment whilst retaining their independence for as long as is physically possible.
Retirement Communities keep people healthy, independent and out of hospital
· When people start to think about moving out of their family homes and into more supported housing specifically for older people, there is a fear that they will lose their independence and see out the rest of their days in a care home.
· Retirement community residents get to live, interact and socialise with like-minded people, and potentially access a vast array of activities, be it swimming, book clubs, cards or golf.
· Above all, retirement communities promote the health and wellbeing of older people by actively striving to enhance the quality of life for all of their residents with care and support needs, however great or small those needs might be. When a resident’s care needs do escalate, the provision of 24-hour on-site care should enable them to remain in their home within the retirement community, and out of hospital, for as long as possible.
A housing market needs to be stimulated for an ageing population
· The benefits of this model are not felt by just one section of society. If just 5% of older occupiers moved to a retirement community (thus matching the proportion living in this type of home in Australia and New Zealand), this would lead to 210,000 family sized homes being released back to the general housing market and contribute to more than £33billion being released back into the property market.
ARCO Chairman, Jon Gooding said:
“The Association has formed at a critical juncture in the housing and social care debate. We are all grappling with the challenge of how we provide high quality care and housing to an ageing population in a time of economic uncertainty and restraint, coupled with rising expectations and lifestyle aspirations. I strongly believe that ARCO’s members represent the solution, at least in part.
“We, as an Association, will do our part and strive to promote and develop the sector, whilst ensuring that people are aware of the ways in which the retirement community sector can meet their lifestyle, health and social care needs. However, to achieve real growth in this sector we call on Government in Westminster, Whitehall and the town hall to encourage meaningful integration of housing and care provision.
“We believe that combining independent housing with 24/7 care in a community setting presents a credible solution for many older people. The stage is set for the Government to act and empower older people to prepare for and make the right move at the right time; securing access to the support they need whilst maintaining their valued independence and the right to their own front door.”