An NHBC Foundation report has highlighted the need for more quality retirement homes as more elderly people consider moving into retirement housing.
The report ‘Retirement housing – residents’ experiences’ explored the issue of whether current retirement housing is keeping up with the needs of residents and makes key recommendations for house builders and developers for future improvements.
It found that nine out of ten elderly people say they love their experience of living in retirement housing or enjoy it most of the time. The feelings of companionship and community feature strongly as reasons given why this type of living is appealing.
The desire to downsize and reduce maintenance costs were also fundamental reasons for people wishing to move. 63% said downsizing as the key reason, with 59% stating they wanted to live in a ‘safe and secure’ environment. Other important factors were being close to family and having access to support services.
By 2022, it is estimated that the aging population will see around 6.6 million people living the UK that will be aged 75 or over.
Results from the NHBC Foundation report revealed that around one million elderly people would consider living in retirement housing but only 128,000 properties have been built for private sale.
The report suggests that creating more retirement housing would be greatly beneficial to the elderly by allowing them to live independently for longer, which in turn will release houses and reduce the pressure on the housing market.
The report also showed a high percentage of home ownership amongst the age group and there is evidence of a willingness to pay a premium to secure the advantages of good quality retirement living. The problem, however, comes as respondents felt there was a lack of choice of suitable properties which appealed to them.
The research suggested that developers need to think about enhancing the lives of residents and to ensure properties are as attractive as possible to potential buyers.
Key recommendations include:
- Elderly people need help with visualising the space if buying off plan
- Improving car parking availability, especially making provisions for visitors
- Developers need to give more consideration to the suitability of design and layouts – particularly kitchens and bathrooms
- Builders need to perform closer inspection to ensure high levels of quality and minimal defects
The research focussed on six retirement developments with almost 400 homes in total. A total of 284 residents completed questionnaires and focus groups were carried out with a fifth of residents.
Neil Smith, Group Research & Innovation Manager at NHBC, said: “Our research found that there is a high demand for more retirement homes in the UK. Many people are keen to downsize from larger homes to retirement properties, but there is a lack of suitable options.
“There is no doubt that retirement houses bring huge benefits to society by allowing elderly people to live independently for longer within a supportive community of like-minded people.
“Living in retirement housing frees elderly people from the burdens of maintaining a larger home and garden. In addition, it brings wider benefits to society such as freeing up larger homes for younger families and releasing capital.
“The report finds that 9 out of 10 residents have a positive experience of living in a retirement home. It also highlights some areas for improvement and the importance of additional support services being made available, such as cleaning and personal care.”