Retirement living models

Coronavirus and the benefits ofextra-care living

Former health minister Dr. Stephen Ladyman explains how the extra-care model of retirement can assist with social distancing and isolation amid the Covid-19 pandemic

We are in extraordinary, unprecedented times. The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the full spectrum of society. Barely a corner of it remains unaffected, and for many of us, the effects are set to last for a prolonged time. The primary concerns are, of course,

to health, with the virus affecting people of all age groups, although presenting enhanced risk to those of a certain age or who fit within the ‘vulnerable’ category, which is determined by any underlying health conditions. Many of us rightly fear for the wellbeing of our families as well as our own health. The updates around coronavirus are

disconcerting, with no clear end in sight. It is likely that we will see several lockdowns spread over the next year or more, allowing some economic activity to take place before having to reintroduce measures to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases to relieve pressure on the NHS. That is likely to continue until either a

vaccine is found – and trialled in accordance with the appropriate regulations – or the NHS is in a position where it can cope with the influx of cases. Both of those scenarios are some way off at present. In the current climate, social

distancing is set to be the norm for the foreseeable future, with the

enforcement of it likely to wax and wane in line with the rise and fall of coronavirus cases. In any event, given the virulence of

Covid-19 and its potentially lethal nature, social distancing is advised, even if not enforced – especially if you fit within the vulnerable bracket or the upper age category. Social distancing is effective because

a virus is spread from person to person. If every person simply stood still for two weeks then the virus would disappear. That though, of course, is impossible. What we can do, is mitigate the circumstances in which it spreads, and social distancing certainly does this. The difficulty though is that living in an

ordinary environment makes it challenging to do so. With online deliveries overwhelmed, most of us still have to venture to the shops in person, making it a prime time to come into contact with others who potentially have the virus. Other issues stem from simple loneliness. Humans are sociable

Extra-care living offers a multitude of benefits for those who choose such properties as well as society as a whole


creatures. Being prevented from bonding with others is hard for us; especially with loneliness already endemic amongst the elderly.

Government backing At Oak Retirement, we are proponents of extra-care living, a model recommended by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). It caters to those of retirement age, providing self-contained retirement properties that offer older people the chance to retain their independence for longer and reduce their financial outgoings, while delivering significant health benefits with on hand personal care and support when needed. Given the rise in average life

expectancy, with the number of 85-year- olds in the UK expected to double by 2026, the extra-care living model is likely to become increasingly widespread as people look to prolong their independence, living on their own terms, in their own homes, all while having support on hand should health or mobility deteriorate as they age. DHSC estimates an additional 1.7m

people will have a potential care need in the next 20 years. One immediate benefit of extra-care living is that around 25% of residents entering an extra-care facility go on to experience improvements in their health due, in part,• June 2020

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