MSPs from five different parties have backed the innovative housing-with-care model as key to tackling the challenges of an ageing population.
At a special exhibition in the Scottish Parliament, SNP, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs pledged their support for new forms of housing and social care, which provide older people with independent living alongside care, support, and a wide range of communal services and facilities.
Housing-with-care is a growing concept, which sits in between the more traditional options of retirement housing and care homes. It has been shown to improve the health and wellbeing of residents by addressing social isolation and providing an environment where older people have appropriate care on site as and when they require it.
This in turn has the benefit of saving money for the NHS and social care by reducing bed blocking and increasing efficiency by delivering care on one site as opposed to visiting several individual homes.
Supply remains very low in Scotland, with just 0.5% of over-65s having the opportunity to live in this type of housing. To close this gap, the Taskforce recommends that Scotland learns from countries like New Zealand and Australia, where 10 times the number of older people live in housing-with-care, owing to innovative regulation and legislation.
The cross-party backing comes a year after the Scottish Housing-with-Care Taskforce was launched in Holyrood, spearheaded by Sovereign Property Partnership and ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators). It now comprises of over 80 representatives including MSPs, operators, housing associations, developers, legal experts, investors, property experts and local authorities.
A report by the Taskforce found that there was a 50,000 unit shortfall in Scotland’s housing-with-care supply versus levels of demand anticipated in their research, published in the Journal of Property Investment and Finance. Furthermore, the over-65 population is expected to rise by 28% by 2036, up to 1.4 million, so this is a problem which will only continue to get worse if not addressed imminently.
Specific recommendations from the Taskforce include greater clarity in the planning system, strengthened consumer protection regulation, and improved social care integration.
Scottish National Party MSP, Paul McLennan, said: “I backed the exhibition for one simple reason: the housing and care options available for older people in Scotland require clear policy lead and direction and clarity to enable the sector to grow and deliver much need housing with care homes.”
Labour Party MSP, Martin Whitfield, said: “With the number of older people in Scotland growing rapidly, policy has got to respond by supporting modern options like housing-with-care. Greater clarity in the planning system and strengthened consumer protection regulation are vital steps to a thriving housing-with-care sector which gets closer to the levels of New Zealand and Australia. The Scottish Housing-with-Care Taskforce are showing that we simply have no alternative but to act now.”
Andrew Fyfe, chair of the Scottish Housing with Care Taskforce, said: “Our ageing population presents an exciting opportunity to do things differently and transform housing and care provision for the better. Many older people want to combine independent living with care and support when needed, which is precisely what housing-with-care can offer. It is the mission of the Scottish Housing-with-Care Taskforce to make this ambition for change a reality.”
“As Chair of the CSPA Scotland Branch I fully endorse the housing~with~care model as set out in the above statement. I can also assure members that they will be kept up to date with further information whenever it is received.” Wilson Macdonald.