Clear demand for housing and care options, says ARCO

Michael Voges, ARCO executive director - Image:

Nine in ten people want to see the government widen housing options for older people, with almost three-quarters interested in an alternative to a care home if they need support.

More than half of older people are interested in moving but lack good local downsizing options, surveys conducted by Later Life Ambitions (LLA) and the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), have found.

The findings illustrate a mismatch between the needs and wants of older people and the options available to them, ARCO said.

A LLA survey of 301 people found 56% were interested in moving, rising to 70% if to somewhere with care and support as an alternative to a care home. However, 53% said their local area did not have enough downsizing options, including those with care.

When asked to rank top priorities for government change, the creation of alternatives to care homes came first, followed by developing a clear national strategy to encourage growth. Also rated as important were providing more information to older people about their choices, making improvements to the planning system, and strengthening consumer protection and clarity.

A separate survey of 12 ARCO members found their focus appeared to be on developing schemes in suburban and urban areas but they were aware of the needs of people in rural areas where demand will remain high.

‘The new evidence published today demonstrates starkly the gulf between what housing and care options people want when they are older, and those currently available to them,’ Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said.

‘A majority of older people are interested in moving should there be the right option in their local area, but the current supply of good quality housing and care is simply nowhere near enough to meet demand.’

The report recommended the development of a wider range of housing options for older people, including those where care is available for those who need it; alternatives to care homes, such as housing with care; a clear and unified approach and strategy from the government towards the retirement community sector to encourage growth; and improvements in the planning system.

Lisa Ray, general secretary at the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance and Later Life Ambitions partner said: ‘Appropriate and comfortable housing helps older people maintain independence, wellbeing and physical health. Needs and preference evolve with age, but the options available have not kept up with demand.’