Parliament To Hold First Ever Debate On UK Housing-With-Care

MPs will hold the first ever formal debate on the housing-with-care sector tomorrow, Thursday, 1st July, marking a key milestone in the recognition and status of the fastest growing part of the social care system.

The Westminster Hall debate, secured by Jim Shannon MP and taking place from 3:15pm, will focus on the way in which housing-with-care offers a new, innovative model for delivering care, and keeping older people active and healthy for longer.

Housing-with-care combines independent living for older people with 24/7 onsite staff, CQC-registered domiciliary care for those who need it, and a range of communal services and facilities, keeping residents safe and shielded during the pandemic, while offering innovative ways to stay socially connected.

A recent study by St Monica Trust and the Housing Learning and Improvement Network found that fewer housing-with-care residents died from Covid-19 (0.97%) than expected between March and December 2020, compared with people of the same age living in the wider community. This builds on the long-standing benefits of housing-with-care for health and wellbeing, with NHS and social care costs reducing by 38% per resident, and average hospital stays going down from an average of 8-14 days to 1-2 days.

The housing-with-care sector has been celebrating World Wellbeing Week, with the representative body for the sector, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators), sharing videos each day of residents and staff talking about the benefits of living in a Retirement Community.

The Westminster Hall debate signifies growing Parliamentary support for new social care options like housing-with-care, to complement existing options like care homes and homecare. Jim Shannon MP is one of 18 official Parliamentary Supporters for Retirement Communities, spanning six different political parties and groupings.

Earlier this year, MPs and Peers joined forces with over 30 charity and private sector leaders, older people’s representatives and academics to write an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the 2020s to be the “decade of housing-with-care”. This came shortly after Parliamentarians and experts had collaborated to produce a “Housing-with-Care Grey Paper” with policy ideas to expand the sector.

Just 0.6% of over-65s in the UK currently have the opportunity to live in housing-with-care, compared to at least 5-6% in countries like New Zealand, Australia and the US. The sector has been calling for the creation of a cross-government Housing-with-Care Task Force to overcome policy barriers to expansion, which include a lack of clarity in the planning system and consumer protection regulation.

Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said:

“We’re really pleased that the housing-with-care sector will finally be getting the Parliamentary attention it deserves at next week’s Westminster Hall debate. This represents a huge milestone for our fast growing sector which is ready to play a key role in the UK’s social care system in future.

“Retirement Communities up and down the country have shown their ability to keep residents safe, shielded and socially connected during the pandemic, and we need many more of them as part of a more diverse social care system.

“We look forward to hearing from MPs of all parties at the debate next week, and hope that it spurs the government action that we need to see for the housing-with-care sector to transform the lives of many more thousands of older people.”

Nick Sanderson, Chief Executive of Audley Villages and Chair of ARCO, said:

“Next week’s Westminster Hall debate on Retirement Communities is extremely welcome, and a real opportunity to raise awareness of the sector’s vast benefits for older people, and our country as a whole.

“Housing-with-care has the potential to save the NHS and social care system billions, dramatically improve the health, wellbeing and independence of older people, and free up homes for all ages.

“We will only realise these benefits on a wider scale if the Government puts the regulatory framework in place for the sector to flourish, and hope that this debate is an important milestone in achieving that change.”

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover and Vice Chair of ARCO, said:

“Housing-with-care has played such a pivotal role during the Covid-19 pandemic in looking after older people and keeping them active and well, so next week’s Westminster Hall debate is hugely timely during what will be a key year for social care.

“With only 0.6% of over-65s currently having the opportunity to live in housing-with-care, it is very important that we expand the sector to complement existing options like care homes and homecare.

“We’ve been calling for a cross-government task force to be set up and make this vision a reality, and urge MPs from all parties to support this idea at next week’s debate.”





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