Retirement communities will play a major role in meeting the housing and care needs of the ageing population, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage has said.
Speaking at the ARCO’s What Next? 2019 Conference in London yesterday, the minister said plans to deliver more retirement communities will feature in the Social Care Green Paper, when it appears.
The minister said housing-with-care (commonly referred to as retirement communities) has never played a more important role in health and social care, helping to keep older people healthier, more active and less lonely.
Now that care homes are increasingly focused on end-of-life care, the Minister added that retirement communities fill the gap between living independently at home and care homes.
She stated that the Green Paper will outline the role operators can play and that the government will help to expand the supply of retirement communities.
The government will look at measures such as a clearer definition for planners and appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks which guarantees residents’ rights, she explained.
These sentiments were echoed in a message from Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP, who called on the sector to be ambitious in its expansion plans, particularly in the mid-market and that he expected local authorities to take much more account of the housing needs of older people in their local plans and in identifying suitable sites.
Commenting on the two-year delay to the publication of the Green Paper, Dinenage said it has given more time to research, including considering housing.
She added: “The Green Paper won’t be a panacea, it will start the conversation,” she added.
Other key speakers at the conference 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’.
Michael Voges, executive director of The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), said: “Today we heard a clear message that Government recognises the importance of our sector and wants – in fact needs – us 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.”
Caption: Middleton Hall retirement village in Darlington.