Private sector retirement villages are beginning to take off in the UK, although the rate of expansion has been slowed by the downturn in the housing market. Fundamentally, the potential for growth in the market is very strong. I think market leaders will emerge from the companies who are the most innovative and flexible in their service offer. They also have to be prepared to embrace the issue of providing care and support.
Up until recently, most private sector retirement housing companies have been very tentative about moving beyond providing anything more than the basic hotel services -meals, laundry and housekeeping. Provision of care is much more highly regulated and operationally more demanding to manage, so it is an area housing developers have been reluctant to be drawn into. There are encouraging signs that this is changing.
Richmond Villages is one of the leading providers with several villages in their portfolio already. I will find out and write more about them in future blogs. What caught my eye recently was “Richmond Retreats”. Although it sounds like a stay in a monastery, it is actually an interesting innovation in retirement housing. The basic offer is a 3 or 7 night break with full board, and care support as an extra add-on service.
In Social Services and NHS parlance, these would be called respite breaks, Richmond uses the much more positive language of the hotel and leisure industry. The emphasis is on the luxury accommodation, the health spa and the extensive range of activities available. I suspect there may be some exaggerated spin on the range of activities available but would love to be proven wrong. The focus on care is rather under-sold as I guess they want to stop short of providing a rehabilitation service, although it would be an easy next step with the facilities they have.
Priced at nearly £2000 per week plus care which could easily be another £1000 per week. This is not a cheap option, but it is a good way of evaluating the facility if you’re considering moving in permanently at some time in the future.
This initiative may well have been borne out of the need to fill their accommodation in a difficult housing market. It is nonetheless an interesting innovation and a more positive and comprehensive view of the direction housing with care needs to move.