According to a new report by the NHBC Foundation, around 9 out of 10 older people say they love their experience of living in retirement housing.
The report also found that there is increasing high demand in the UK for more quality retirement housing with residents citing companionship and community spirit as the biggest benefits of living in a retirement development.
With the population rapidly ageing, it is expected that around 6.6 million people living in the UK will be 75 or older by 2022.The NHBC Foundation report found that around one million elderly people say they would consider moving into retirement housing – but only 128,000 homes are estimated to have been built for private sale.
It found that building more retirement properties would bring significant benefits for the elderly by allowing them to live independently for longer while freeing up homes for younger families.
The report also identified that rates of home ownership are high for this age group and there is evidence of a willingness to pay a premium to gain the benefits of good quality retirement living.
However, residents participating in the research commented on a lack of choice of suitable properties which appealed to them.
Nearly two thirds of elderly people (63 per cent) cited downsizing as the main reason followed by 59 per cent who said they wanted to be in a ‘safe and secure’ environment.
Other important factors were being close to family and having access to support services.
The report ‘Retirement housing – residents’ experiences’ examines whether current retirement housing is meeting the needs of residents and provides key recommendations for house builders and developers for future improvements.
It finds that developers need to further enhance the enjoyment of life for residents and ensure homes are as attractive as possible to buyers.
Key recommendations are: Elderly people need help with visualising the space if buying off plan, car parking availability needs to be improved, especially for visitors, developers need to give more consideration to the suitability of design and layouts – particularly kitchens and bathrooms and builders need to carry out closer inspection to ensure high levels of quality and minimal defects.
The research centred 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 nine 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.”