Extra care housing is a genuine alternative to residential care for older people – private finance and expertise are available right now to make it happen

There is no doubt that extra care housing for older people:

  • Is a more effective and better value alternative to placement in residential care homes – even for people with complex and changing needs.
  • Enables local authorities with adult social care responsibilities to reduce expenditure on more expensive services at the same time as maximising the independence and well-being of people who need support.
  • Helps local authorities to deliver transformational change in the face of massive operational and financial demands.
  • Puts individuals at the heart of services and support that are designed to maximise their independence and quality of life.

The best models bring together high quality bespoke housing, personalised adaptive technology and person-centred support in a single integrated model. These models can be developed collaboratively with social care commissioners both to provide a direct alternative to residential care and to reduce dependence on paid support. Developers not only bring expertise, creativity and vision to the challenge of implementing extra care housing, but also (and importantly!) provide new private finance to meet increasing need at a time of reduced public sector funding. When specified, commissioned and implemented correctly, it will provide a home for life for people with changing and complex needs.

Extra care housing quite simply has to be at the heart of mainstream provision because we know that:

  • Between 2005/06 and 2014/15 the number of people aged 65+ increased by one fifth and the number aged 85+ increased by one third
  • Between 2014/14 and 2038/39 the number of people aged 65 and over is forecast to increase from 9.5 to 15.2 million
  • There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK – increasing to 1 million by 2025
  • Adult social care budgets have reduced by £6 billion since 2010
  • Extra care housing prevents the need for residential care for older people in 40% to 63% of cases
  • Extra care housing can successfully meet the needs of people with dementia (as long as we remember that ageing and dementia are separate processes and that ‘design for dementia’ cannot simply be an ‘add on’)
  • The cost of supporting older people in extra care housing can be significantly lower than the gross cost of residential care placements
  • Implementation of assistive technologies can result in savings of 7% to 20% of budget in a typical council

In the face of this weight of evidence – and knowing that private sector expertise and finance are available right now to deliver commissioning objectives – planning and delivering extra care housing must be at the heart of every council’s strategy for older people.