The Bamboo Blog

Is retirement living the next focus of property development?

21 Aug 2018 By WengYee Loke

With an ever changing landscape, property development and investment must look for new opportunities. Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) was the last darling of property development, has the time come to focus on a new age group?

Retirement living could be the next area to focus on and here are a few reasons why:

Increase in aging population

The average person can expect to see a much higher life expectancy than ever before. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and better living conditions, the average life expectancy in the UK is 79.1 years for males and 82.8 years for females (with both figures increasing over time).

A recent report by Knight Frank states that

“There are currently 9.9 million people in England (and 11.8 million in the UK overall) over the age of 65. This number is forecast to rise by 20% over the next decade. The number of people aged 90 or over is set to almost double in the next 10 years.”

Many will be able to carry on their years living in mortgage free home, but not all. There will be those who are looking for specialist housing that comes with greater accessibility to care but not a full care home.

Opportunity to downsize

The housing crisis is a widely known issue and one main cause of it is the lack of supply. Media has mainly looked at how there is a lack of supply when it comes to starter homes for first time buyers. But there is also the potential to free up family homes for 2nd/3rd time buyers. If we are able to provide suitable accomodation for retirees to move into, their previous family homes would be open to growing families looking to move up the housing ladder.

Large multi-storeyed houses are perfect when all your children are living with you and you have the energy to maintain a larger household. But as the years go on, will an aging population still want to dedicate their time and effort to its upkeep?

But downsizing does not mean downgrading. What retirees want out of a new place is not to feel like they have gone backwards in time. Moving from a large 5-bedroom house into a studio flat is a massive leap. It would feel like moving back into your student house share where you shared the kitchen with 5 others and there was only one working toilet! Not the best experience really.

A sense of community

In a world where we are more connected than ever before, why is it that we seem to be losing the sense of community? In January this year, Tracey Crouch was appointed as the ‘Minister of Loneliness’. She is tasked with tackling the social isolation problem that many face in today’s society.

“According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.” Source

Previously most families and friends would live within walking distance of each other. But as people move to different cities (or even countries) for work, family or even just an adventure, you can no longer just pop round for a cup of tea and catch up.

Having dedicated retirement living could help combat some of the loneliness that older people will face. Living within close proximity to those who are in the same stage of life could help give way to new friendships or relationships to help with the sense of community.

So what does retirement living look like? What are the features that it would need to draw in those who are looking for comfortable retirement living.

Nurses and care staff onsite

Not everyone needs full time care so having access to a nurse or care staff is a good alternative. Many retirement living communities that are known as assisted living have 247 access to nurses or care staff. While the staff do not necessarily have to live on the premises, they must be able to arrive within a short space of time.

By having care staff within close reach, those living in the retirement homes are safe in the knowledge that there will always be someone on hand to help. It will also benefit those who many not always have family to constantly check in on them. The staff will be able to observe any changes in their health and alert doctors/family members quickly.

Fitted alarms within property

As retirement living is purpose built, fitting alarms within each property should be a basic feature. It is important that those living in the property are able to call for help as easily as possible. You could say that with the popularity of devices such as Google Home or Alexa, there isn’t a pressing need for fitted alarms within a property. After all, you could go “Okay Google, call me an ambulance.” if you’ve fallen down and need help getting up.

Well-placed buttons offer a beautifully simple solution to the problem. No fuss about making sure Google understands your accent, or that the internet is working for the device to connect. Ready made social activities As we mentioned earlier, loneliness is becoming an issue with older people. Retirement living creates a ready-made community with fellow retirees. Many retirement living facilities will have a host/manager who will be charged with organising social events. So whether you are interested in long country walks or wanting to pick up a hobby, you don’t have to do it alone.

Retirees could even band together for a common purpose such as hen keeping! The HenPower project sees older people looking after hens as a way to fight loneliness and improving their mental health. A study by Northumbria University found that collective hen-keeping was effective at decreasing depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication in the homes.

Full maintenance provided

Retirement facilities also are responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of the properties. This way there’s no need for a senior to get up on a rickety ladder to change a lightbulb and risk falling down. Safety first everyone!

No worrying about what to do when the roof leaks or the boiler breaks down. A quick ring to management and they will get everything fixed for you.

Housing should be built for everyone. So much is focused currently on providing homes for first time buyers or student accommodation. But what about those on the other end of the housing system?

There is a lack of suitable retirement housing facilities here in the UK. With the number of those in the aging population expected to increase, there is still opportunity to tap into this growing market.

“Figures from Legal & General also suggest that the UK has a ‘chronic under-supply’ of retirement homes with only 7,000 homes delivered to this sector last year - making it the most under-supplied area of the housing market.” Source

“There are currently 24,900 retirement housing developments in England and Wales, comprising 720,000 units. Crucially, only 186,000 retirement housing units (26%) can be owned.”Source

The government has announced an extra £76 million a year of funding to build homes for vulnerable people. Local authorities and housing developers will be able to apply for funding on a rolling basis. More details on the scheme

Have a look at this lot that we sold earlier this year. It was for a plot of land with outline planning for 8 assisted living units in Coventry.

Plot of land with outline planning for 8 assisted living units

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