ARCO aims for more clarity with ‘integrated retirement communities’

Michael Voges, ARCO executive director - Image:

Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) has adopted a new term to describe housing with care’s operational model.

Responding to research, the UK national body will use the term integrated retirement communities, following calls for clearer language and housing choices. It consulted with 600 55–75-plus year olds across England, who said existing terms were confusing and at times off-putting.

Its research found there were as many as 14 different terms attributed to housing with care provision.

Integrated retirement communities sit between ‘sheltered housing’ where minimal support is provided, and ‘care’ or ‘nursing’ homes, which are increasingly focused on supporting people with higher levels of support needs.

ARCO will be working with members and the wider sector to support the adoption of the new term. It is also calling on the government to use a single term, ‘integrated retirement community’, to describe the form of specialist housing, which its members provide for over 78,000 older people across the UK.

‘Our research shows that eight out of 10 older people are interested in housing and care options which will help them to retain their independence, enjoying a fulfilling lifestyle as part of a wider community,’ said ARCO executive director Michael Voges.

‘People want facilities such as cafés and restaurants, optional activities and social links, with care available if they need it. Integrated retirement communities provide this choice at a range of price points but awareness remains low.’

Research undertaken by law firm Shakespeare Martineau found 51% of the public associate all forms of retirement housing with an ‘old people’s home’ or ‘nursing home’, despite significant differences between these living options.

‘People we talked to are fed up with patronising and outdated terminology that masks the opportunity integrated retirement communities provide,’ said Voges. ‘New options have emerged, it’s time the language did too.’

ARCO believes a lack of clear terminology impacts negatively on planning and regulation – making it harder for local authorities to understand the role integrated retirement communities can play.

ARCO chair Nick Sanderson added: ‘There’s significant unmet demand. We need government to work with us, introducing clarity of terminology that recognises and propagates integrated retirement communities.

‘Sector specific legislation is also needed; it will help providers and planners meet demand for these communities and support consumers who are seeking to move into them.’