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*New research shows need for ‘retirement communities’*
*Downsizing must be made desirable*

Research from Hanover Housing Association reveals that Britain’s baby boomers will face a lack of suitable housing with care when they enter retirement. Residential care may be available as an option but it is unlikely that the properties on offer will be appropriate for their needs.

It is estimated that the number of people of retirement age in the UK will increase by nearly 50 per cent to 12 million by 2011, but the number of residential care places available has dropped by 89,000 since 1996. The option of retirement housing for rent is also under threat as funding sources for onsite care are being reduced.

Today people of retirement age are much more active than the same group was in the past. Although mobile and independent for the majority of their retirement, older people often have special needs such as single storey accommodation and access to healthcare.

Hanover Housing Association is calling on policy makers and both the public and private sectors to recognise the imminent need for new and appropriate housing with care facilities.

Nearly nine out of ten (89 per cent) people over 65 do not consider moving in with family an option if they require additional care during retirement. People want to retain both their independence and personal space when they retire. They want to be near to local facilities in order to enjoy a fulfilling life. There is also significant concern that retirement care should not absorb a lifetime of savings as 77 per cent would like to leave an inheritance.

Britain must create ‘retirement communities’

‘Retirement communities’ will be required so that older people can live independently whilst having the amenities they need close by. These communities should provide much more than basic accommodation and care for residents. They must offer an opportunity for older people to become involved with social and physical activities that foster personal growth and forge new relationships.

Professor Richard Scase, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at The University of Kent explains: “Retirement communities offer the necessary social and physical support for ageing individuals during a time when new connections are needed to fill what is often lost by the departing of loved ones.”

Respondents were very specific regarding what amenities they would like retirement communities to include. Nearly three in four (71 per cent) preferred an out of town location and an onsite shop was stipulated by 67 per cent of respondents. More than half (54 per cent) wanted their retirement community to have a library or bookshop.

Maintaining a sense of independence was pervasive across respondents’ answers. Nearly two out of three (63 per cent) wanted access to onsite, 24 hour care so as not to feel reliant on others, such as family, to access the care they require when they require it.

They were also keen on remaining active and looking after themselves in their old age. More than two out of five people (42 per cent) want their retirement community to have a gym and nearly a third (29 per cent) want a hairdressing salon.

Socialising and staying in contact with friends is also key for a retirement community. Over a quarter (27 per cent) said it was important to have a pub nearby. More than one in five (22 per cent) want to be close to a cinema and one in eight (13 per cent) believe ease of access to an Internet café will be important.

Desirable downsizing defined

As well as creating appropriate emotional communities, the type of accommodation available is imperative. Retirement communities should consist of properties that offer the facilities needed by the contemporary older person.

The ability to have company and accommodate visiting children and grandchildren is a priority with 85 per cent preferring two bedrooms. Nearly one third of those surveyed (31 per cent) said that being able to live with their pets was important to them.

Cooking for oneself is one of the most important ways that older people measure their independence. This was borne out by the request of 72 per cent of respondents for a separate kitchen in their retirement property.

Michelle Hollywood, Communications Director for Hanover Housing Association said “Today’s older person wants help available when they need it, and do not want to feel dependent on family in order to receive it. We at Hanover want to work with the public and private sectors to offer older people appropriate housing that is equity protected. Such properties should be made available exclusively to retired people and should have a warden or estate manager onsite 24 hours a day. Residents should not have to pay the astronomical fees of often unneeded residential care. Hanover has been instrumental in creating extra care housing as an alternative to residential care and we are now taking it forward to provide a mixed tenure model. Moving to rented accommodation or residential care is a drain on hard earned equity so retired home owners want to remain owner occupiers.”

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For further information, please contact: brian@pwkpr.com or call 0208 342 8709

Editors’ Notes:

About the surveys:

- The ‘Take it Easy’ survey was conducted by Quaestar Research & Marketing. Analysts conducted 246 interviews of property owners aged 62 – 80 who were considering a move within the next few years. Focus groups were also conducted with the sample.

- The ‘Homes through the Ages’ survey was conducted by BMRB’s ACCESS division which questioned 2,268 working and retired adults, aged 45 plus, to help understand people’s attitudes to home and finance as they get older.

About Hanover Housing Association:

- Founded in 1963, Hanover is a not-for-profit organisation and was the first housing association to build, manage and maintain sheltered housing for older people on a national basis.

- Hanover offers flexible and imaginative solutions to the changing needs of older people for housing and support.

- Hanover Housing Association manages over 10,500 rented properties owned by the Group on over 370 estates throughout England. It also manages more than 500 homes on behalf of other organisations including almshouses and charitable trusts.

- For more general information, visit www.hanover.org.uk


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