"Comprehensive and conclusive" proof of the housing-with-care model

Kings Fund and University of York research highlights benefits of Retirement Communities

“Comprehensive and conclusive” report proves the case for housing-with-care

A report commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care has provided “overwhelming evidence” of the substantial and widespread benefits of housing-with-care in keeping older people healthier and more independent and in reducing the levels of health and care support they need.

The research, conducted by The Kings Fund and The University of York at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care included an extensive review of available evidence and research on the health and social care value of the new generation of retirement housing known as housing-with-care alongside a study of the Government’s capital funding system for housing association and local authority provision.

With social care reform being high on the Government’s agenda there is a growing consensus that the DHSC should be looking not just at how social care is funded but also how it is provided. The past year has seen a significant growth in support for the new generation of retirement housing known as housing-with-care (often referred to as extra care or retirement villages) playing a greater role. This is reinforced by strong growth in demand for this form of provision from older people themselves as an alternative to institutionalised care.

The sector is also starting to experience significant growth in supply, outpacing growth in traditional forms of retirement housing.

The report finds strong evidence of significant systemic benefits as follows:

  • Reduced visits to GPs
  • Reductions in use of community nursing services
  • Reduction in length of hospital stays
  • Reductions in hospital admissions
  • Reduced ambulance and emergency call outs
  • Reductions in care and care equipment costs
  • Reduced likelihood of entering a care home or other long-term care

As well as strong evidence of significant benefits to older people themselves as follows:

  • More exercise, fitness and independence
  • Better perceived health
  • Reductions in falls
  • Reduced frailty
  • Increased life expectancy
  • Lower levels of depression, loneliness, isolation and anxiety
  • Improvements in memory and mental function
  • Improved sense of community and wellbeing
  • Reduced cognitive decline
  • Better contact levels with friends and family
  • Improved confidence in self-managing health
  • More of a sense of control for residents


Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO said:

“There is now an overwhelming, comprehensive and conclusive body of proof that the housing-with-care model can play a vital role in supporting our health and social are systems and in keeping older people healthy, independent and well for longer.

“The implications of this authoritative study are clear – the Government must now act to remove the barriers to growth for this key sector.

“Recent events have proved just how important social care is – now is the time for the Government to make a clear statement of its intentions to provide more choice, better housing and different forms of care as part of a brighter future for hundreds of thousands more older people.”




For Further Information Please Contact

Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications, at garethlyon@arcouk.org or on 075350 88498


Notes to editors


  1. About ARCO: Founded in 2012, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the principle body representing both private and not-for-profit operators of housing-with-care schemes in the UK. ARCO’s members aim to provide housing and care solutions to an additional 150,000 people over the next 10 years. We work in three distinct areas, each vital in supporting our Members and growing the sector that helps people to live independently for longer.
  • Setting the Policy Agenda: delivered through policy campaigning work with MPs, Peers, Government Ministers, Local Authorities and other key sector stakeholders to influence the future of much-needed sector specific legislation.
  • Compliance & Regulation: delivered through our Consumer Code and standards framework, with continual assessments of Members to drive high standards for customer and resident experience.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Best Practice: delivered through our extensive events programme, annual What Next? Conference, Network bulletins, online Knowledge Bank, and ARCO Analytics.
  1. About Retirement Communities/housing-with-care: Retirement Communities sit in between traditional retirement houses (which have less extensive staffing and leisure facilities), and care homes, and can be set in urban or suburban locations. There is a growing body of evidence which shows that Retirement Communities keep older people healthy, well and independent for longer – reducing the overall level of care they need and keeping them out of care homes and hospitals. Currently about 77,000 people live in Retirement Communities in the UK but this number is set to grow to 250,000 people by the end of the decade. Retirement Communities are the fastest growing form of social care provision in the UK – with demand significantly exceeding current supply. Typically consisting of individual one or two bedroom flats or houses, located in a development with similar properties, residents have access to a range of services and facilities, which will include optional on-site care, 24-hour staffing, and dining and leisure facilities, and may also include bars, gyms and craft rooms. Retirement Communities are also sometimes referred to as housing-with-care schemes, retirement villages, extra care housing, assisted living, or close care apartments.


  1. The benefits of Housing-with-Care: Housing-with-care has shown during the outbreak that it can help residents to self-isolate independently. A particular advantage of this form of retirement provision is that residents can access the highest levels of support from staff through care, meals, regular phone check-ins and a wide range of online activities.
    More broadly, housing-with-care brings a range of great benefits to older people and our country as a whole:
    • Delivering savings to the social care system: Providing social care for those with lower-level needs costs £1,222 (17.8%) less per person per year, and for those with higher-level needs £4,556 (26%) less than in other care settings.
    • Boosting health and the NHS: By improving the physical and mental health of residents, costs like GP, nurse and hospital visits reduce by 38%. £5.6bn in cost savings will be made for health and social care if 250,000 over-65s live in housing-with-care by 2030
    • Freeing up family homes: 562,000 bedrooms will be released to the market for all generations if the sector achieves its 2030 growth targets.
    • Efficient use of land: Apartments for older people are built using up to six times less space than family homes.
    • Tackling loneliness: Residents are five times as likely as non-residents to participate in social events, and four times as likely to get together with friends.


These benefits have been clearly demonstrated during the coronavirus outbreak. The provision of care, meals and support onsite has played a key role in keeping residents well and healthy. Housing-with-care has been central to  cutting hospital admissions, reducing strain on the NHS and providing crucial step-down capacity once people could leave hospital.


4. Our call for a Housing-with-Care Task Force: The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on our social care system and forced us to reflect on the fact that we need to develop new models of care.There is a huge gap in the current social care landscape for housing and care options that sit between care homes, and people receiving care in homes that may no longer suit their needs. For older people without acute care needs, the UK needs to grow the provision of models that enable them to live independently for as long as possible: with onsite care and support if needed, boosting health and wellbeing, reducing pressure on the NHS and strengthening social connection.That’s why ARCO is calling for the swift establishment of a cross-government Housing-with-Care Task Force to accelerate the growth of the housing-with-care sector. Backed by a range of high-profile supporters, we believe a Task Force is the best mechanism through which barriers to growth can be identified, and recommendations for change made. Only by working together can we establish new options that compliment and extend the existing social care landscape in the UK.