Demand for housing with care schemes in the UK is set to drive huge growth in this sector in the coming years, experts suggest.
Housing with care schemes provide homes to people aged 55 and over, who require extra care and whose current homes no longer meet their needs.
The Access Group, a care software provider, says that the number of housing with care units in the UK is on track to rise from the current 0.7% market penetration rate, due to the relative wealth of some property-owning retirees, their desire to live independently, public sector investment and increasing pressure on the NHS.
The UK is currently lagging behind the US, where the proportion is around 6%, and Australia and New Zealand, both just over 5%.
James Taylor, a health and social care technology specialist at The Access Group, says the growing popularity of housing with care will lead to a shake-up of the sector over the coming years, fuelled by investors and providers making the most of fresh opportunities in the market.
The forecasts are part of his new report, ‘Building the Future of Care?’, which suggests demand for this type of care now outstrips supply in many local authorities as the over-65s look for alternative housing models.
“Residential homes now tend to focus on end-of-life care, which means there’s a gap in the market for independent older people who still lead an active lifestyle with the right support in place. On top of meals, domestic support and care services, they often want secure communities with libraries, swimming pools, craft rooms and other facilities,” said Taylor.
“Luxury care homes, which sometimes feel like all-inclusive hotels, are nothing new – but with average fees of around £70,000 a year, the costs can be unsustainable. In contrast, housing with care properties normally come with long leases, so they can be sold afterwards to preserve or even increase capital. In my opinion, it is the best choice for people who crave companionship and activities, without high dependency care.”
However, he stressed that growth in retirement housing is unlikely to take market share away from traditional residential providers:
“You only have to look at demographic projections, which suggest that by 2048, there will be 3.5million people over the age of 85 in the UK and of those, 500,000 will need round-the-clock care. This increase in demand will be met largely by residential care providers but retirement communities will increase their market share, plugging the gap for those who require less support.”