Care Minister Caroline Dinenage has told ARCO’s What Next? 2019 Conference that retirement communities have “a major role to play” in meeting the housing and care needs of the UK’s ageing population.
“And the Government is committed to helping deliver more of them and they will feature in the Social Care Green Paper when it appears,” she said.
Last month, 24housing reported a cross-party alliance pushing later living as a housing priority – high-profile support for a sector seen as having “huge momentum”.
Dinenage told conference that with care homes increasingly focused on end-of-life care, Retirement Communities fill the gap between residential care and independent living.
As such, she said, the Social Care Green Paper will outline the role operators can play and that the Government is committed to helping to expand the number of Retirement Communities, looking at measures such as a clearer definition for planners and appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks which guarantees residents’ rights.
This is something ARCO has been campaigning for since its inception.
Conference also had a message from housing minister Kit Malthouse who urged the sector to be ambitious in its expansion plans, particularly in the mid-market.
Malthouse said he expected councils to take much more account of the housing needs of older people in their local plans and in identifying suitable sites.
Other key speakers included:
- Sir Muir Gray, Director, the Optimal Ageing Programme, who called for a change to the language around care to promote active ageing, suggesting ‘retirement’ becomes ‘renaissance’ and ‘care’ becomes ‘wellbeing’
- Janice Chia, Founder and Managing Director, Ageing Asia Alliance also spoke of the different types of retirement facilities in South East Asia and the initiatives to encourage exercise through competitions and even gambling.
Sector leaders Nick Sanderson, CEO Audley Villages, Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive Anchor Hanover, and Avnish Goyal, Chair of Hallmark Care Homes, also spoke or took part in panel discussions throughout the day along with many other experts.
Michael Voges, Executive Director ARCO, said conference had a “clear message” that Government recognises the importance of the sector and wanted – in fact needed – the sector to grow significantly over the coming years.
“We are delighted to hear that the Department of Health and the Ministry of Housing will work together to help increase supply, listening to ideas from the sector and unlocking our huge potential over the coming years.
“Our ambitious growth plans, which we refer to as Vision 2030, are already set to deliver billions of pounds of savings to the health and social care systems and to free up hundreds of thousands of houses – but we know we can go even further,” said Voges.
“Our sector is ready to play a major role in tackling the housing and social care challenges at the same time.
“If the Government follows through on the commitments made today we will see an unprecedented boom in our sector over the coming decade. Hundreds of thousands of older people will benefit as a result,” he said.