In a world where the private rental sector is in a constant state of flux and a severe nationwide shortage of affordable housing persists, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of housing associations. Could they play a part in alleviating the housing crisis while offering stability and security to those entering the twilight of their lives? What could be its impact on the housing landscape.

Real Challenges of Later Living Developments

While the concept of later living developments holds promise, a formidable challenge lurks in the shadows—the stigma associated with them. It’s high time for the housing sector to do more to shed light on the positives these developments offer. From enhanced resident protections, which surpass the uncertainties of private renting, to accessible health and care provisions, these aspects need to be brought to the fore. Recent legislative actions, including the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023, aim to challenge this stigma by implementing new standards and regulations, such as requiring landlords to be licensed to manage later living accommodations.

What are The Benefits of Assisted Living

The advantages of making the transition to a more size-appropriate home in assisted living communities extend beyond enhanced protections brought about by new regulations. These communities provide a secure alternative to private rental agreements, offering access to crucial financial support and demystifying complex systems that often seem inaccessible. Additionally, residents are encouraged to establish a Power of Attorney, providing a trusted person of authority to manage financial, property, and health matters that may arise, including decisions on end-of-life care. While this might seem like a daunting step, this supported approach to future planning offers real peace of mind to both the individual and their loved ones.

What are the Misconceptions of Later Living

Misconceptions about later and assisted living have become stumbling blocks preventing many from making the move, sooner. Our recent study revealed that 10% of individuals surveyed believed their health would decline upon moving to a right-sized property in a later living development. Housing associations must step up to dispel these notions and highlight the benefits that rightsizing can bring, such as reduced bills and potential access to health and care solutions.

The Role of Onsite Care

While not all later living developments offer onsite healthcare, specialised retirement living schemes provide a solution by allowing residents to access care from a designated provider. Although not obligatory, the advantages of onsite care are many—prompt professional consultations, potential for quicker diagnoses and treatment, physiotherapy for mobility issues, access to fitness facilities, and well-balanced meals, all contributing to a comfortable and healthy lifestyle.

Designing for Changing Needs

Unlike the private rental sector or private housing, assisted living accommodations are tailored to accommodate changing health needs as residents age. However, for this concept to thrive, landlords / providers must proactively promote its benefits to ensure uptake is swifter, leading to less housing stock bottlenecks as people continue to occupy larger homes that no longer suit their needs. Effective planning is key to avoid clustering individuals with similar extensive needs, which could strain resources and compromise resident care.

How to Diversify and Attract People

Attracting new residents requires a multi-generational strategy. A mix of ages on-site is essential to entice younger occupants who might be deterred by the prospect of residing exclusively among elderly and vulnerable individuals. With research indicating that 28% of people resist retirement housing schemes due to a perceived concentration of older residents, creating a diverse community becomes a critical aspect for encouraging new residents.

A big and often reluctant step

The prospect of transitioning to later living can be intimidating for many. However, preparing for the future is essential. The current state of the private rental sector fails to offer the security vulnerable individuals require, potentially leading to stress and adverse health impacts as proper care remains elusive. Embracing the concept of appropriate housing designed for later living could not only impact the housing crisis but also significantly improve the quality of life in one’s later years. As we explore the possibilities of end-of-life social housing, the potential to reshape both the housing landscape and end-of-life experiences looms large on the horizon.

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Louise is the Head of the Building Communities team, having a passion for delivering development that brings major benefit to residents in terms of health, wellbeing, education, employment and the environment.

Specialising in the acquisition and sale of a wide range of affordable housing, she offers considerable insight and experience in delivering new residential schemes, on time and within budget. Louise assists clients in finding solutions to operational issues arising in relation to their housing stock. Her specialist focus is in housing with care, having drafted many bespoke leases to secure viability of complex schemes and is an expert in outright, shared ownership, buy-backs and large scale asset disposals in the later living market.

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Published: 29th August 2023
Area: Later Living

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