There's been a lot of talk lately about retirement villages being the end of care homes and I thought I would join in the discussion!
Firstly, it is important to understand the different types of care homes, which should be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). A residential care home is able to provide personal care, such as help with mobility, washing and dressing and provides 'on demand' care and support to their residents. A Care Home with a nursing registration means that the care home employs registered nurses and will provide a much higher degree of care. Some of these homes will also be registered to provide dementia care which is usually within a dedicated area of the home so that the care and environment is suitable for those living with a dementia.
I recently attended a meeting about a study on retirement villages which was carried out by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) and afterwards there was a lot of discussion about whether retirement villages could replace care homes. Nick Sanderson, who was one of the speakers, boldly stated that "75% of care homes should be closed as they aren't any longer fit for purpose".
So, can retirement villages really replace care homes? I believe this is dependent on the care provided. The Village Suites at a Richmond Retirement Village provide assisted living, with residents having the ability to take bespoke care packages. This type of living is often likened to a better version of residential care. Within the Suites people still own their properties, have daily chores such as all meals, laundry and cleaning taken care of and are able to have support packages if required. There is also the reassurance of the emergency call service to the on-site care team 24-hours a day. So the only difference between this and a care home is that it isn't on demand care, it is scheduled care. But how many residents in a residential care home actually need on demand care?
However, a care home with nursing is a different matter. Residents have more complex needs which is the reason all Richmond Villages have a Care Home on site. These residents will need more specialised care and attention than can be provided in their home and are often admitted to a care home on advice from either their GP or after a stay in hospital. Approximately 10 - 15% of residents in Richmond Villages care homes are made up of people who were living in our retirement villages. Some of these people may only be residents for a few weeks, either after an illness or after an operation, but their care needs require more than just personal care or care at home.
As is well reported in the press, one of the consequences with an ageing demographic is the increase in those with a dementia. A number of these people will eventually require 24-hour care either due to their care needs or for their own safety.
So, does the rise in retirement villages signal the end of care homes? I don't believe so, although I do think assisted living will grow in popularity meaning the demand for residential care homes will reduce. However, there will still be the need for care homes with nursing care. These homes will be able to ease the pressure on hospital beds and provide the specialised elderly care required but in a pleasantand social environment.
What do you think? Do you think the growing demand for retirement villages spells the end for care homes? I would be interested to hear your views.