“ARCO Conference – Demographics”

ARCO stands for Associated Retirement Community Operators.   It was formed in 2012 and is a diverse collection of providers of retirement housing in the UK.   They represent 27 operators who between them provide more than 50% of the current provision in the UK.   In July of this year I went to their first annual conference which was attended by nearly 300 other delegates all from around the UK.   This in itself is an indication of the substantial level of interest there is in this area.

The full conference programme papers have not yet been released so these are very much my first impressions of the discussions by the conference speakers.   It was an interesting programme with speakers from Brazil and America as well as the UK.   The main themes emerging from the conference topics were Demographics, Dementia, Marketing and Regulation.  I’ll talk about them in my next few blogs:-


The keynote address was by Professor Alexandre Kalache, who is the Co-President of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance.   He is also the former head of the World Health Organisation, Global Programme on Ageing.   The title of his speech was “Living Longer / Living Well” and that summed up the reality and hope of most of what he had to say.   It’s well-known that there is an ageing population in most of the developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere but less well appreciated that there is an increasingly aged population in China, Japan, India and Brazil.    Whilst people are living longer and healthier lives, many older people still live in poverty.   Loneliness and social isolation is a major issue for older people in many countries including our own.

One interesting fact he quoted was that “70% of US wealth is in the hands of baby boomers”.  Whilst this might seem like good news, it only is if they can convert their wealth into a tradeable resources to purchase support services and appropriate housing.   Professor Kalache was the instigator of the Age Friendly Cities initiatives which is intended to ensure that older people in their “golden years” have a happy life.   It’s yet to be seen whether this initiative achieves very much for people in later life.  (You can see in the TAG CLOUD by clicking on Age Friendly my earlier blogs on this subject).

His ending words of caution, which were no doubt coloured by his experience of the huge elderly populations living in poverty in Brazilian cities, but also by the very large retirement communities in places like the USA and elsewhere were:-

“Don’t build ghettos”

This seemed a rather strange thing to say to an audience of people whose desired intention is to build more retirement communities.   Nonetheless they are wise words which were repeated later in the conference by the speaker talking about marketing.

One final thing that the Professor did was to involve the audience.   We were asked how long we thought we would live and whilst a minority of people thought they would die before they reached 80, the majority thought they would die between and 80 and 90 years of age and a hopeful few thought they would live beyond this.   The Professor was able to confirm that the majority were correct.   His next question was more challenging when he asked what you were most likely to die from.   A few thought cancer, rather more thought Alzheimer’s would lead to their demise, some thought they were likely to die from a chronic illness such as congenital heart disease.   The majority hoped to die a sudden death from something like a heart attack or quietly pass away at home in their sleep.   This time the Professor had to disabuse the audience of their wishful thinking.    He confirmed that statistically only about 10% of people die a peaceful sudden death.   The majority of us are destined to die in hospital after a period of  illness.

The sobering message from this quick survey of professionals in the field of retirement housing is that our elderly customers generally do not set aside enough money to provide for care and support in their later years.   Nor indeed in the UK at least, does the pensions industry and insurance market provide appropriate financial products for end of life care.

More to follow in my next blogs.

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5 Responses to “ARCO Conference – Demographics”

  1. Dear John, reflections! The ARCO memorandum, and your piece entitled ‘DEMOGRAPHICS’, I make the follow notes, for consideration by all readers.
    Professor Alexandere Kalache, from the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, and the problems of ‘global ageing’! Has raised some interesting points, to which you John has commented with some thought provoking ideas.
    I cannot comment constructively on the views expressed so far: However I wish to note personal points with express relationship to my country the United Kingdom.
    WE are now under a political system that is negotiating ‘Britex’ from the EU, and all that means, covering subjects such as immigration/free movement of persons, and international trade/commercial agreements- and how this is reflected upon or within the UK’s Banking system, again reflected in domestic policy of the National Health and Social Services (NHS) budgets.
    My personal points for consideration.
    Smiles and Grumbles blog site has on many occasions reflected, on the aging population, loneliness, alzhmiers, housing and integrated support services.
    I now dream and wonder with respect to accommodation for the elderly, firstly the aging problem, and secondly the related knock on effects possible to housing, and our attitude to old age accommodation as a nation.
    I note that the ‘baby boomers’ are now becoming the elderly: interestingly for me is how many (percentage) of the population is actually now within the next 10 years reaching retirement 67+ or should I say 60+: compared to the projected working potential population 21+ and above to 60+ who are part of the tax paying population, not expected to be on benefits? Gentle with your answers as the recent BRITEX is potentially restricting immigration, or free movement of persons, and to whom does our NHS and social support budgets are disbursed for example: the young and working population or just the elderly (Do we die at the price of negligence and ignorance [shipman?]
    One interesting side issue of accommodation for the elderly for me is space, and to avoid at all costs a ‘Ghetto complex’
    What I enjoy and have is space within my retirement village, and fully integrated safety features, which I would wish to see for all future to be built retirement village: the main features are listed below,
    1/ Flats accommodation/apartments two and one bedroom (a standard feature is that all doors are extra wide to permit transit of electric and hand operated wheel chairs), with possible patio’s and or balconies 75 to 95 sq. metres. (Bedrooms; lounge; kitchen; wet room, and a lobby-hall), the safety features are
    i/ integrated fire alarm system in all rooms/spaces
    ii/ electrical plugs switches; waist high
    iii/ an integrated pull cord system, and remote ‘talk telephone’ connected to the village support system.
    iv/ a fully functional internal telephone system, available from most rooms.
    v/ If required an external telephone incoming line for contact and web connections.
    vi/ a TV aerial service connection to all living and bedrooms within each apartment
    2/ external to each apartment is plenty of space and in the main complex 4 Floors of apartment there is room for large scooters and electric wheelchairs to pass each other, without the use of laybys.
    i/ external to each apartment is a power point to enable electric wheelchairs and scooters to be recharged
    3/ Public; communal areas including a village hall-interconnected with a restraint; This feature can be used for large village social occasions and smaller activities such as dance and movement classes, or residents exhibitions of interest; a unisex hairdressers, a fully functional IT Suite- Internet connected; a village shop; library; reception and village foyer area; work rooms and a fully equipped fully fitted woodwork hobby room.
    a/ also are certain meeting rooms, for private residents use and staff training use.
    b/ a pub and café area a social meeting points throughout the day within the village.
    4/ There is a gymnasium with a qualified manager, who can and does advise on exercises to recupe health after an illness/ailment, or just general fitness.
    5/ Then there is support staff for domiciliary care, and in addition for alhzmiers, senile dementia a Locksmith, and a Well-being Nurse, with a consulting room, for advice on medical matters [Not direct treatment, but general health updates (Blood pressure)], and advises when a doctor should be sought by the resident.

    Overall there is a village manager, an activities facilitator, and admin staff who guide and back up the resident who volunteer within in any activity, or social area in the village. The importance of volunteering is stressed to help both each resident using the service, and the resident friend as a volunteer make the village a going concern.
    Why I have laboured the above is to stress the need for space and social meetings/volunteering in a retirement village, is because as I age and the providers of this village become older, say in a future venture (25 Years plus), and because of ‘Britex’ the aging population of Britain as a percentage drastically reduces: Then how does the investor(s) in a village such as mine then promote the as fitted out accommodation attractive to a newer generation of maybe a different age profile.
    So in our/my times, I kindly request developers to at least include space with in their retirement homes, and provide spacious access with internal space within each apartment.
    I have no comments on the worldwide aging population, and poverty. I believe in helping oneself and then help ones neighbour. Here I must reflect, and where I can help then I will, but not at the detriment of my family, or friends.
    We in the UK are becoming from owners to renters of property, and the social ownership is reducing? Here the politicians local and central must decide which is the economic answer to the housing problem? Who can produce/manufacture/develop housing with a good stand of spacing, for movement within each future apartment or house SEMI/Detactched? Etc.
    Good Reading.

  2. davidwfreeman237 says:

    please read restaurant: not restraint when I describe village facilites

  3. davidwfreeman237 says:

    paragraph 3 above

    Prejudices what are they, do we all have them?
    Going back to the UK and ‘BRITEX’, what are we the Brits concerned about? Especially immigration, and the free movement of peoples/persons.
    In John original Blog above reference was made to ‘GHETTO’s’? Who are they? What are they? Why are we such a divided nation?
    Back to prejudices of personal and nationalist values. In Britex, we have under EU rules the free movement of labour, from all nations within the EU- The prejudice is it because they are white, speak with many foreign tongues, and are not speaking a native dialect or language of the UK and Ireland? Do they live in collective areas within the UK, and encourage their own cultures and way of life? Then should we not integrate them within the UK, and discourage them from living in ‘GHETTO’s?
    That Europe dealt with, except some of the nations have fundamentally non-Christian beliefs? Is this acceptable?
    WE now come to the old Empire and the modern commonwealth affiliated to the British Crown? We have all the problems of the above mixed in with colour? What now are our prejudices, and beliefs for equality, and understanding of a ‘GHETTO(S)? Still thinking? Good.
    Then we have our Christian and charitable beliefs, and the mayhem of Asia Minor and in the Middle East? How do we help, or even solve this problem? Another GHETTO or joined up adult thinking, with a humane and acceptable international political solution. Being aware of NIMBYism.
    AS the ARCO speakers above highlight, China, Brazil, South America, and many other nations have an ageing population as does the USA: Can we help solve these problems with the alleged ageing population living in poverty?
    I ask what poverty is. AS a young man working once for an International Swedish Manufacturing Company, I was invited across with my family to the works in Sweden, (a beautiful country, and civilised citizens). A senior Swedish representative, when I asked why did every Swede live in rented accommodation his answer still haunts me to this day! His definition of a poor Swede, is one that has a rented town house, two children, a Volvo, and a summer house (Bought and paid for) in the North of the Country. (North of Stockholm). Maybe a joke, but poverty is all relevant to the nation in which one lives; is it not?
    GHETTO’s this word to me means so much from history and WWII and the images on film of Warsaw, and other occupied countries, the UK and the TV and slum clearances of the 60’s and then are modern day age screen productions of the BOMBAY, and live of a slum child, and the numerous travel programmes on the plight of the greater unwashed around the world.
    WE as nations may be able to help, but we need is not pity, but respect, and the confidence that any help offered will help reduce the effect of a GHETTO. AS we in the UK grow older we must watch that as the older generation with the keys to power, do not let the green eyed monster of profit shove or push us oldies in a large old age complex, which in time could become a GHETTO! With no space- but

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