News - April 2019
Traditionally, when older people were unable to live independently, and could not be cared for by their loved-ones, nursing and care homes were the go-to option.
But, with a rapidly-ageing population with wide-ranging and specialist health and care needs, a significant shortfall in social care beds, and constant pressure on budgets; this approach is becoming unsustainable.
So, over recent years, we have seen the landscape changing; with ‘care villages’ now a popular choice for investors and developers working within the very-lucrative social care marketplace.
This model is typified by a mix of accommodation, from retirement homes through to assisted living units and from care homes and dementia facilities.
Large-scale developments; they also feature communal facilities, such as cafés, shops or wellbeing suites for use by both residents and the wider population; creating true community hubs.
The idea is that, as people age and their needs increase, they can move through the various types of accommodation without major upheaval.
The tipping point
A spokesman for Pozzoni Architects explains: “The UK has now reached a tipping point in terms of its care needs, with a larger proportion of the population being older people, rather than younger.
“There is currently not enough breadth of development type to support this varying demand so the care village model is becoming increasingly popular as it offers varying levels of support within a single campus or building.”
He added: “With the aging population, we’re expecting to see parents in their mid-70s and older needing the support and facilities of a care home.
“Additionally, there is the potential of their younger family members who are still of retirement age, living in retirement housing within the same wider complex.”
This means that designers need to consider a wide range of needs when developing schemes.
Speaking to hdm, Howard Nankivell, chief executive of Rangeford Villages, which has a network of care facilities across the country, said: “Villages must appeal to an audience ranging in age from 55 to 100.
“Level-access apartments with lots of natural light; simple-yet-modern appliances; and spacious layouts in safe, secure aspirational settings are key.
“Importantly, residents buy much more than just bricks and mortar. These villages are a lifestyle choice, with added peace of mind, a range of flexible services, and a community that you can be part of as much or as little as you choose.”
Rangeford’s Wadswick Green village in Corsham, Wiltshire, bucked the trend when it opened in 2015 by providing a range of contemporary, aspirational and very-practical one, two and three-bed apartments set around a central building and restaurant.
The inspiration came from across the globe including Australia, with a focus on light and spacious open living with good use of outdoor space.
Pozzoni has also worked on a number of projects, including Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, which offers 24-hour nursing and dementia care facilities for 72 residents in six households on the same site as 28 apartments for independent living, along with a range of community facilities, including a bistro, exercise studio and therapy room.
The practice has also led on some more-specialist schemes, such as Belong Didsbury, also known as Morris Feinnman Care Village, which was specifically designed to cater to the needs of the ageing population of South Manchester’s Jewish community.
Location, location, location
And it has designed schemes for older people within the LGBT community.
The spokesman said that location is key; as is maximising independence, maintaining privacy, and promoting wellbeing.
“The siting of care villages can influence the ratio of high-dependency, care-assisted living depending on demographics within the area and local demand,” he added.
“Creating a sense of community and integrating with the wider community beyond the care village itself is crucial.
“Providing facilities on site that are open to the public can help with this. But the types of facilities in each village aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. They will be determined by what’s already available locally.
“For example, there would be no need to provide a community hall if there’s a well-used church hall or community centre nearby.”
Adapting to local needs was central to the design of Belong Didsbury, as there were specific cultural requirements to take into consideration, such as the need for separate milk and meat kitchens in the residential apartments as well as a kosher café and a synagogue within the wider complex.
And incorporating dementia-friendly design principles is crucial across the entire development. This ensures that if people develop dementia as they age, they can move seamlessly through to the relevant facility without seeing too much change.
“Seemingly-simple modifications to design can help people with dementia to familiarise themselves with their surrounding and understand the location of key facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms,” said the spokesman.
The popularity of the care village approach can be seen in the plethora of planning approvals coming through in recent months, including a £15m project in Beeston, Nottingham, for Charterpoint Senior Living, Peveril Securities, and Belong.
Adrian Goose, chief executive of Charterpoint, said: “Research by leading care operators has shown that care villages provide numerous benefits for older people, including less frailty, reduced rates of depression and potential significant savings in social care costs for local authorities.
“We know that loneliness can be a problem for some older people and retirement and care communities provide social opportunities, companionship and activities - all of which can improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
“We anticipate that this scheme will be a great asset to the community of Beeston and its residents.”
Moving forward, Saunders sees the care village model further evolving to offer a wider mix of housing types for the over-55s, rather than the traditional apartment settings seen with traditional retirement living schemes.
“We also need to look further afield to places such as the USA, Australia and the Netherlands where they’re streets ahead in terms of intergenerational living,” he said.
“It is becoming increasingly common in these countries to see schemes that include residential apartments for older people alongside leisure facilities, schools, GP surgeries, and physio services; all within one complex.
“In the UK, grandparents are increasingly becoming carers for their grandchildren while their parents are working. But many care and retirement living settings aren’t practical to facilitate this.”
Another trend forecast is the inclusion of care villages within more-urban locations rather than quieter out-of-town sites.
“Having these kinds of developments close to all the life and amenities of our town and city centres will help residents to feel connected to the wider community and encourage greater use of the onsite facilities which are open to the public,” he said.
Nankivell added: “There will also be more focus on individual wellbeing services, adding value through linking technology and personal health monitoring with bespoke activity and nutritional programmes.
“We see much-more-active and adventurous residents that want to embrace later life to the full and this trend will continue.”
But Saunders warned: “To really see changes in the market, with new housing types and development models coming forward, there needs to be a shift in the perception of care villages.
“There can be a stigma around certain types of retirement living options and that they are only there to provide support in later life.
“Of course, this is a key element for some, but modern facilities offer so much more than that.
“We need to shake the stigma and present care villages as an attractive option for those looking to downsize but retain their independence and a sense of community, rather than see it as a last resort.”