Scotland faces a stark and worrying gap of 50,000 homes in housing-with-care, according to a new report from the Scottish Housing-with-Care Taskforce which urges swift Government action to meet the shortfall.
With the country's over-65 population set to rise by 28% by 2036, and reach almost 1.4 million, there are currently only 3,782 housing-with-care units – homes which provide older people with an independent lifestyle alongside 24/7 onsite staffing, social care if needed, and communal services and facilities.
Housing-with-care sits in between traditional retirement housing and nursing homes (which are declining in number), and is seen as key to the future of support for older people, helping to cut delayed hospital discharges, and tackling Scotland's loneliness crisis – with 100,000 older people lonely all or most of the time.
The new report by ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) and Sovereign Property Partnership, who together have brought the Housing-with-Care Taskforce of experts together, says the housing-with-care supply gap is getting worse, despite the increasing need.
Just 0.48% of over-65s in Scotland currently have the opportunity to live in housing-with-care, compared to at least 5-6% in countries like New Zealand, Australia and the US, and over 4,200 new properties need to be built each year in Scotland to catch up by 2036.
Achieving this requires action on three key areas, says the report:
The Taskforce draws inspiration from the campaign led by ARCO for a UK-wide Taskforce to transform housing and care options for older people – which the Government later committed to in its Levelling Up White Paper.
"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," said Gareth Lyon, Director of Policy and Communications at ARCO. "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."
Andrew Fyfe, Chair of The Scottish Housing With Care Task Force, added, "It is amazing and worrying in equal measure to think that we currently provide only 3,800 homes in housing-with-care for an older population that is set to grow to 1.4 million by 2036.
"Tackling this supply gap has got to become a key priority for the Scottish Government, so that delayed hospital discharges are reduced, so that loneliness and isolation is tackled, ultimately, so that older people can live healthier, happier lives.
"We do not have long to meet this urgent challenge – the Scottish Government must act now."
For further information on care communities, visit ARCO.