What is an Integrated Retirement Community?

Integrated retirement communities, also known as extra care, assisted living, continuing care retirement community (CCRC), or housing with care, describes accommodation which provides specialist accommodation and care to older people in need.

An integrated retirement community, typically takes the form of a core building providing facilities for residents and others surrounded by purpose-built age appropriate residential accommodation. Care and support is provided both within the communities central facilities and in the residents’ own homes.

This approach allows residents to receive increased levels of support as and when required as their needs change over time, allowing residents to age in place.

BENEFITS OF INTEGRATED RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES FOR OLDER PEOPLE AND THE COMMUNITY

Purpose-built integrated retirement communities cater for the specific needs of older people as they age, alongside management and delivery of care and assistance, which can be increased or decreased depending on the individual circumstances of each resident.

The sector brings considerable benefits for the health and wellbeing of older people, as well as extensive wider social and community benefits, including significant savings for the NHS and social care system.

However, according to retirement community industry organisation, ARCO, just 0.6% of over-65s in the UK live in integrated retirement communities, compared to minimum levels of 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia and the US. 

To tackle this shortage the later living industry is focused on increasing the number of older people living in extra care from the present figure of 77,000 to 250,000 by 2030.

In Weybridge, the Members Hill project will help address the shortage of integrated retirement communities in the local area, supporting the whole of Weybridge through the services and facilities provided. 

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

With a focus on wellbeing, integrated retirement communities can help people lead healthier lives, contribute to overall better health outcomes and reduce pressures on the NHS. 

Integrated retirement communities also play a role in tackling the loneliness epidemic among older people. According to ARCO, residents of integrated retirement communities are five times as likely as non-residents to participate in social events, and four times as likely to get together with friends, ensuring they remain active socially and a part of a community, helping reduce depression, loneliness, isolation and anxiety and improve memory and mental function

REDUCING PRESSURES ON NHS AND SOCIAL CARE

The NHS and social care system are under huge strains and the integrated retirement community model can play an important role in reducing this pressure. As residents are provided with care on site and as their homes are especially designed to enable adaptations to cater for increasing needs, they are able to continue to live in their homes and the community as they age. 

If a resident has an accident, they can return more quickly from hospital to If a resident has an accident, they can return more quickly from hospital to their home in an integrated retirement community than they otherwise would if living in a family home or more traditional retirement community. This is due to the purpose built apartments being adapted to to support their increased needs, and the onsite provision of care can be instantly utilised to support their requirements.

As such, this means they spend less time in hospital and can avoid be transferred into care homes, relieving pressure on the NHS and the social care system. 

ARCO estimates that integrated retirement communities settings cut the cost of social care for individuals with lower level needs by around 17.8% and for those with higher needs by 26%. Additionally, by improving physical and mental health of residents, costs like GP, nurse and hospital visits reduce by 38%. 

ARCO estimates that if 250,000 over-65s live in housing-with-care by 2030, ARCO estimates that if 250,000 over-65s live in integrated retirement communities by 2030, this would provide total savings of £5.6bn for the health and social care system.

BENEFITS FOR WIDER HOUSING MARKET

As residents often move from family homes into extra care communities, this helps strengthen the local housing market, by freeing up family homes for up-sizers and as such smaller homes for younger families or first-time buyers.

ARCO estimates that if the integrated retirement community sector achieves its growth targets by 2030, a total of 562,000 bedrooms will be released to the market for all generations across the country.

Integrated retirement communities are a more efficient use of development land than providing new family homes, using six times less space than a traditional home development by a housebuilder. This allows for additional development land to be given over to the development of new homes for first-time buyers and families.