In the early part of 2020 the ARCO team will be publishing a series of posts about the decade ahead, covering a variety of aspects of our work and the sector we represent.
Following the post by our Head of Policy and Communications, Gareth Lyon, on changing perceptions of Retirement Communities, we hear next from Sam Dalton, Policy and External Affairs Executive, about some of the big policy issues that will shape the sector over the next ten years.
Three policy crises that Retirement Communities will help solve
With Britain leaving the European Union on 31st January, the UK Government can finally give more attention to domestic policy.
But this will be far from plain sailing. In fact, there are three policy crises currently engulfing our country which intertwine with the Retirement Community sector and which will reach boiling point over the next decade unless we find solutions.
1. Housing crisis
According to the National Housing Federation, 8.4 million people are affected by the housing crisis – living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes. 400,000 are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The Government’s response will have to include mass home building over the next decade, but Retirement Communities have a part to play.
If we achieve our aim of 250,000 over-65s in Retirement Communities by 2030, 562,000 bedrooms will be released to the general market, increasing supply and pushing down prices.
2. Social care crisis
Just last week, the Alzheimer’s Society pointed to a lack of social care as the reason for a 35% increase in emergency hospital admissions for people living with dementia. The continued postponement of social care reform has damaging knock-on effects for the NHS.
While Boris Johnson has committed to a cross-party social care solution, we need to determine how and where care will be provided in any new model.
Retirement Communities are a vital piece of the jigsaw because the high-quality care offered to residents reduces strain on the NHS. Unexpected hospital stays go down from 8-14 days to 1-2 days. Overall NHS costs reduce by 38%.
3. Social disconnection crisis
The previous decade saw the country deeply divided by Brexit. Disconnection also showed itself through the growing loneliness epidemic, affecting both young and old.
Indeed, generational divides have become a topic of growing concern, being a key part of the ‘Decade of Reconnection’ campaign led by influential national figures – which ARCO have been involved in shaping.
Rather than being islands of the elderly, Retirement Communities act as hubs for the wider area and bring people of all ages together. We need more rather than less of them to help make our country more connected.