Retirement living models

to stay social and build their confidence. Being surrounded by a mix of ages can also help keep elderly people healthier generally. Entering a care home where everyone is older can create a mindset that causes people to give up, both mentally and physically, whereas seeing younger people amongst the older generation can encourage them to stay active.

That was seen in Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ television programme, with many of the residents considerably improving their mental and physical abilities after spending time with the children.

New kid on the block

Multi-generational living can be made possible using the build-to-rent model. Generally, it involves developers purchasing a site and building a set of high-quality apartments specifically for the rental market. These sites include fitness and leisure facilities, retail units, and sometimes small cinemas. That model tends to be aimed towards the younger generation, as they move around much more during their careers. One of the main purposes of build-to- rent is to entice people to move to the newest development, with residents moving from one site to the next to make the most of the latest facilities. As such, the better the offering, the more likely people are to stay there for an extended period of time. That creates a lower risk option for developers, due to a greater longevity of tenancy. In addition, these complexes could offer huge benefits for the elderly too. Many of the older generation still prioritise owning their home, viewing renting as a waste of their money. However, for those who no longer want the hassle of maintaining a property, then build-to-rent could be a great alternative. Rent can be seen as like paying for a mortgage monthly, but instead of only getting the property, the person also receives access to a multitude of facilities and 24/7 security. That makes the build-to-rent model ideal for older people who want to stay independent, but also want to have a safe place to live, with everything they need on their doorstep.

Should a number of those needing care move into a multi-generational complex, it has the potential to make the job of carers more straightforward. If organised properly, care providers could see multiple individuals within the complex in one trip.

That would save a considerable 44

amount of time, as the carer would not have to drive between houses. Partnerships between certain build-to- rent complexes and care homes could even be created, ensuring elderly residents have access to all the help they could need and an easy route into a more care-orientated, or supported setting, should it be necessary.

However, to keep the apartments multi-generational, they would not be sectioned off into areas for those needing care and those that do not. However, all new developments can be made accessible throughout, with wider doorways, lifts and higher electricity sockets, allowing residents to live in any unit they choose.

Much like at a care home, the communal set-up of these complexes would enable activities that suit the older generation to be run, so they can get to know each other. However, they would also have a range of other facilities to use, should they wish to.

Plus, if a person does have to self- isolate, or the UK does enter a lockdown situation again, residents can still benefit from the community they have moved into through the use of technology. For example, if a cinema is onsite, the films could be streamed to people’s rooms to ensure they stay entertained and have something to look forward to.


Build-to-rent and multi-generational living are not an immediate fix when it comes to the care industry, but after the pandemic, it should certainly be a new route to consider.

Retirement living will always have a function, especially for those with heightened care needs, but multi- generational living offers an alternative that can work in harmony with care homes.

Louise Drew

Louise Drew is managing director of infrastructure and specialist markets at law firm Shakespeare Martineau. Specialising in the acquisition and sale of a wide range of affordable housing, Drew offers considerable experience in delivering

development schemes and assisting clients with finding solutions to operational issues in relation to their housing stock. Her specialist focus is on extra-care retirement living, with expertise in outright, shared ownership, buy-backs and large- scale asset disposals in the later living market. Drew is committed to making housing for older people more accessible, better quality and more aspirational. • July 2020

Of course, as with any aspect of the care system, the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people would have to be placed at the forefront of the developments, but this is possible. For those not yet ready to enter retirement living, multi-generational schemes could be the next best step, keeping a person’s independence while ensuring they are safe and looked after.


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