One in four people in the United Kingdom will be over age 65 by 2037, and it is estimated that there will be a shortfall of almost 70,000 homes with care in the next decade. A new ULI publication offers guidance for investors, developers, and architects on how best to design, build, and operate housing with care services.

Driven by long-term demographic change and an opportunity to invest responsibly, billions of pounds from insurers and pension funds are set to pour into the United Kingdom’s emerging housing with care sector, according to the new guide, Later Living: Housing with Care.

Institutional backing of housing with care could move the sector from being predominantly led by sales to an operational, long-term income model, with a focus on the quality of management and provision of services and amenities, according to the guide.

The United Kingdom’s rapidly aging population is creating a clear need for greater provision of housing with care for older people, which could alleviate pressure on public services like the National Health Service (NHS).

Research shows that those living in properties with provided care run by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust save the NHS £1,994 (US$2,684) per person, on average, over five years, reducing NHS spending for residents by nearly
40 percent.

Given that these developments will be housing the elderly, providing high-quality care facilities as well as other amenities will be crucial. Professional operations and management will be essential, such as the provision of staff and 24-hour care, allowing residents to maintain their independence longer.

Changing tastes among the elderly will have to be catered to as well, with baby boomers wanting to continue pursuing an active and fulfilled lifestyle. Combining good design principles with activities, enlivening initiatives, and staff training is vital to creating aspirational places in which to live—environments where residents feel happy and supported.

The report also outlines the precise legislation and planning guidelines needed in order for organizations that build and operate these developments to be able to meet demand. The patchwork of legislation currently governing the sector poses challenges, creating a complicated process for operators of housing with care to achieve planning goals and deliver the necessary quality of homes and services.

Sector-specific legislation and regulation will provide a more straightforward and more stable set of rules, which will both increase consumer confidence and provide much-needed clarity and consistency for developers, operators, funders, and other stakeholders.

Despite the lack of legislation, the United Kingdom has the advantage of a blank canvas on which to develop a thriving later-living sector akin to that in mature markets overseas.

Through a combination of more-precise legislation, planning guidelines, good design, and well-managed operations, housing with care has the potential to be a fast-growing asset class following the success of the build-to-rent and student accommodations market sectors.

Order a printed copy of the guide by filling this form and emailing uk@uli.org. Download the full version of the guide through the ULI Bookstore. A discount is available for ULI members by contacting uk@uli.org. Alternatively, the introduction of the guide is available for free download.