A survey of UK retirement community operators has found a ‘very significant’ increase in the number of older people enquiring about and moving to retirement communities providing care and support, such as retirement villages or extra care housing, following a survey conducted by ARCO, the trade association for operators of housing-with-care developments for older people.

85% of organisations surveyed indicated that sales and lettings in the past month were higher than in the same period last year. 55% of respondents said that sales and lettings were at least 30% higher than in 2019, with 25% saying that sales and lettings were as much as 50% higher.

65% of operators stated that the most common drivers of this increase were a desire for more company and social interaction, and older folk realising that the houses they were previously living in were not suitable anymore (also 65%). 60% of operators also indicated that demand was driven by a desire to access a support network ahead of another period of lockdown.

The retirement community sector is calling on the government to create a Housing-with-Care Task Force to help unlock barriers to the expansion of the sector, as provision of housing options with on-site care and support in the UK is currently lagging far behind other countries.

Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said: “These figures confirm a trend our members have been observing for a long time: there is a huge gap in the UK market for aspirational living options combining both social interaction and optional support services. An ever-growing number of older people are reviewing their housing, support and care needs in the face of the current pandemic, and are seeking out retirement communities that enable them to live independently for as long as possible.”

ARCO’s members include not-for-profit operators such as Anchor Hanover and fast-growing private operators such as Audley Group and Legal & General-backed Inspired Villages Group.

Date published: October 20, 2020

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