Older people’s housing – creating a paradigm shift

We all know the demographics - 12m to nearly 20m over 65's within the next 20 years. £1trillion of equity locked up in under occupied family housing and a tiny proportion of this age group, c1%, living in any form of specialist older persons housing. Why is this?

It's 10 years since HAPPI sought to address this, primarily looking at the Demand side, focussing on the quality of design. It's a similar period since Prof Michael Ball, (University of Reading), looked at the Supply side, where little in policy terms has changed since. Why the inertia when the prize for the individuals, government and society is so great? Why are most moves still a response to an 'issue' in/of old age rather than a positive lifestyle choice?

Education, as always, is key and in particular for prospective customers/residents and potential investors. For the former the dreaded 'R' word is still off-putting, especially the younger old who, whilst they may be retired from full time work, are certainly not retired from life! Promoting the lifestyle and life enhancing benefits of specialist Older Person’s Housing (OPH) in all its various forms is surely something the industry should come together on - a coordinated and integrated campaign. Customers need to be confident that the proposition they're being sold will be delivered and here the world has changed in the last 10 years - there is a real focus on quality of service, on transparency in charges, of supporting resale values, the DMF has been legitimised etc, etc......it just needs to be communicated louder!

What of investors? They need confidence too. There are many, many investors with significant sums to invest who see the potential opportunity in the sector but, are either concerned at being exposed to the vagaries of the housing market, particularly at this difficult time, or worry about the lack of comparable evidence to be able to support a rental product. However, there are now many examples of great and different schemes which are being successful for all stakeholders. Showcase the best, learn and repeat. Bring investors along the journey.

But, immediately, what would help now, in this period where there's still work to do in raising customer awareness and to help investor confidence? I hate to say it, but, what about help from Government, National and Local. A stimulus for the Demand side by removing stamp duty and a stimulus for the Supply side by removing the requirement for affordable housing for any form of housing with a 60 plus occupation restriction.

“…the country and society needs to help solve the housing and health care crises. Our challenge is to make it happen.”This is a recipe for success in providing the housing people need and should want, in all its various forms and tenures.......and also that the country and society needs to help solve the housing and health care crises.

Our challenge is to make it happen. It will be great to see the intentions and appetite of 'the sector' from the Housing LIN’s growing housing with care survey and consider further how we move culture to the state where a move to OPH is simply a natural choice.


Posted on by Vicky Japes

A very interesting piece, and I wholeheartedly agree that we should work collaboratively to highlight the benefits of appropriate housing for our older residents. However I am not sure how removing S106 obligations would help build vibrant healthy retirement communities for all.

Posted on by Richard Hinchliffe

A 65 year old and an 85 year old will probably want different things and will have very different health profiles. What does the proposition look like when it is trying to target such a wide age range?

Posted on by Brian Warwick

Accessibility & right facilities for life would make all the difference. What is not needed is high valued property. Most older people would be more interested in good quality, suitable property for life that releases sufficient funds to have a good quality of life. However, they do not want tiny kennels.

Posted on by Chris Jones

Perhaps multi generational living is a route. Mutual self help - basically an old fashioned community but with a large communal space for use by all; with social interaction/connectedness built into the design. As exemplified by many co housing projects around the country. We have to grow this and we have to start now. best wishes

Posted on by Claire Batsford

I agree with Chris re multi-generational living.

I'd like to understand how Care providers can invest to help to stimulate the market. The 75+ group want housing with the ability to purchase Care, support and additional services easily not go to external Dom care providers or are pushed towards expensive private Housing with Care+ offerings.

Posted on by Caroline Attwood FRSA

I agree with Chris and Claire. My generation want appropriate cost efficient housing, to continue to participate in their local community and - should they have the incentive - to carry on working. Approximately 10% of new businesses in the UK annually are set up by 65 plus year olds. We are wasting ability, building the wrong model and the interface between the generations is being blurred rather than enhanced. I keep saying that I have an idea for a totally new approach that is inexpensive, community-facing, and wouldn't cost the end user an arm and a leg (as many retirement facilities do - some of it being scandalously pricy). So - is there anyone out there ready to listen, please?

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