My last blog looked at the demand for more Care Homes. With the exception of specialist homes for dementia, psychiatric support and small group homes for learning difficulties, I would not agree we need more residential Care Homes. In my view they create dependency and only offer an institutional lifestyle.
I do accept we need more Housing with Care, to meet the growing need to better support frail older people to continue to live independently. The Newcastle University study suggested an additional 71,000 older people will need support in the next 10 years. I suspect the figure will be much larger even than that!
My previous blog suggested that this would need in the order of £15 billion of capital investment to develop around 300 new retirement villages. That level of new investment by Government is usually reserved for aircraft carriers or ridiculous railways. Currently all the Nation’s available capital will be needed to compensate the European Union for Brexit. So the likelihood of finding investment for older people from the State seems rather remote.
The good news is, older people themselves have a huge amount of assets locked up in the homes they own. The options they have for getting the money out of their homes are unfortunately not very good value. Equity release products are still expensive and come with all sorts of limitations. Downsizing from a larger family home into retirement housing is probably a better option, but unfortunately most retirement housing offers little more than sheltered housing and emergency pullcords.
If we are to genuinely transform retirement housing to make it an attractive proposition for a large number of people, then we need a much bolder approach which goes beyond retirement housing and offers a much more attractive lifestyle in later life.
If the Government isn’t going to be able to provide the capital, then older people will have to take control of their own resources and use them creatively to buy a new life in older age.
My blogs next week will begin to outline how that can be done.