A new report has highlighted a significant disparity between public perception and what’s actually on offer at retirement housing schemes.
The research, commissioned by law firm Shakespeare Martineau, also shows clear issues with language and missed opportunities by the retirement housing sector’s marketing approach.
The research polled 2,000 UK adults and 100 representatives from retirement housing providers. One in three said that retirement housing schemes are synonymous with ‘old people’s homes’ and there was disconnect between the services the public expected compared to the services actually offered by housing providers.
As an example, more than half of respondents expected a ‘medical centre’ or ‘24/7 emergency response’ to be available, when in fact closer to only one third providers offer this service, indicating that providers are failing to communicate with the public.
Shakespeare Martineau’s head of building communities Louise Drew said: “We have long suspected inconsistencies in the perception of the benefits of retirement housing, due to a lack of public understanding. This, linked with limited information on the various products available and an internal inconsistency of language within the sector, is causing the perfect storm.
The research also explored the use of language in the sector, public awareness of benefits and services, perception of what type of person would benefit from retirement housing and public understanding of retirement property tenure types. Representatives from organisations including CIH, Housing 21, Lifestory Group, the Housing Learning and Improvement Network, Orbit Group, Elderly Accommodation Counsel, the Local Government Association and Shakespeare Martineau came together to analyse the findings and map out what is needed to alter perceptions and fill the knowledge gaps.
When asked about benefits of schemes, more than three quarters of the public agreed that retirement housing offered a safe and secure place to live (76%), two thirds felt that they are a good alternative to residential care homes (66%) and more than 3 in 5 (62%) agreed they offer a desirable place to live. However, only around 1 in 4 (28%) of the public agree that retirement housing offers good value for money – with nearly half of respondents stating that they didn’t know.
When asked about the ‘type’ of people who would benefit from living in a retirement housing scheme, only the minority of the public believed highly active (33%) or working (14%) older people would benefit. Housing providers believed ‘older couples’ are amongst the most suitable group (91%) but only 44% of the public agree, with a higher proportion (67%) selecting single people.
When asked if they would consider moving into a retirement housing scheme themselves, public respondents were unsure – only 8% saying they would ‘definitely’ consider it, indicating a huge market-base of potential customers, who either need further information or further convincing of why they should ‘definitely’ consider retirement housing schemes.