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Scotland faces 50k housing-with-care shortfall

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing with care /iStock-1043564886

The Scottish Housing with Care Task Force has warned that the country faces a 50,000-housing-with-care gap, as it urges the Scottish Government to act to meet the shortfall.

This includes creating a new planning use class for housing-with-care.

The warning comes as the country's over-65 population is set to rise by 28 per cent by 2036 to 1.4 million.

But, the task force says there are only 3,782 housing-with-care units in the country.

Housing-with-care provides older people with an independent lifestyle alongside 24/7 on-site staffing and social care if needed, as well as communal services and facilities. It sits in between traditional retirement housing and nursing homes, which the task force says are declining in numbers. Such housing can also help to cut delays to hospital discharges and tackle Scotland's loneliness crisis.

The report, by ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) and Sovereign Property Partnership, which brought together the Housing-with-Care Taskforce, explains that the housing-with-care supply gap is getting worse, despite the increasing need.

Of the over-65s in Scotland, 0.48 per cent have the opportunity to live in housing-with-care, compared with at least 5-6 per cent in New Zealand, Australia and the US. To catch up with these countries, more than 4,200 properties need to be built each year in Scotland through to 2036.

According to the report, action is required in three areas:

  • Law: For example, giving housing-with-care residents the same rights and consumer protections as in New Zealand.
  • Planning: Creating a new planning use class for housing-with-care, setting targets for new housing-with-care homes, and enabling housing-with-care operators to compete better with mainstream housebuilders.
  • Social care integration: Considering health and social care needs more fully in the planning and delivery stages of development.

In its work, the task force said it drew inspiration from the campaign led by ARCO for a UK-wide task force to transform housing and care options for older people. The government later committed to this in its levelling-up white paper.

Gareth Lyon, director of policy and communications at ARCO, said: “Scotland’s housing-with-care supply gap is stark, and is only set to get worse unless we see swift government action to back the sector.

“Improving the health and wellbeing of our ageing population, and tackling the loneliness crisis, are among the great challenges of our time, and housing-with-care has got to a critical role to play in meeting these.

“We urge the Scottish Government to act quickly on our calls for change on legal issues, planning and social care integration – for the benefit of older people across the country.”

Paul Harries, executive chairman of LifeCare Residences, said: “LifeCare has over 30 years experience operating housing-with-care communities in New Zealand, and more recently in Australia and England.  

"New Zealand has a similar population to Scotland, and currently has just under 50,000 people living in housing-with-care communities, which is expected to increase to nearly 70,000 by 2028. Additionally, housing-with-care communities now provide 50% of care home facilities in New Zealand.

"We urge the Scottish Government to look at the interaction between housing and health and social care, and support the relatively minor changes to the legal and planning framework that are needed to help the provision of housing-with-care communities in Scotland to grow.”

The report can be found on the ARCO website (pdf).

Read more:

News report: Is it time for a new use classification?

Image credit | iStock