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New Study Explores Social Care in Retirement Housing

A major new study exploring how best to provide social care in retirement housing has been launched.

Funded by the Department of Health’s NIHR School for Social Care Research Programme, the two-year project is being led by experts from the University of Worcester’s Association for Dementia Studies.

Dr Simon Evans, Senior Research Fellow and lead for the research, said: “Increasing numbers of older people, coming to the end of full time employment, are expressing strong desires to remain living independently in their own homes as they grow older, but increasing numbers are looking to specialist forms of housing with care as an option that can fulfil their lifestyle choices while at the same time offering the levels of care and support that they need now or might need in the future.

“At the same time the government has been keen to encourage downsizing as a way of freeing up larger homes for people with families and has provided significant funding for extra care housing schemes and retirement villages.”

During the past 10 years over £800 million capital money has been made available through public sector grants and private sector investment, including a ‘pump-priming’ £227 million by the Department of Health to councils between 2004 and 2010 to seek innovative extra care housing solutions for older people as an affordable housing based alternative to residential care or costly home care.

Dr Evans said: “However, the type and amount of social support provided to residents in these settings varies widely across England and there is currently little information about this. What is known is that adult social care is a large and complicated system. In 2008/09, a total of £16.1 billion was spent on delivering adult social care in England, involving 13,000 provider organisations with 1.3 million employees.

“In order to explore how best to provide adult social care in housing with care schemes in England, we have brought together a team that includes experienced researchers from three universities, experts from the housing with care industry and people with unique knowledge of government policy and strategy in this area.

“The overall aim of this project is to understand the role of adult social care in housing with care settings and how it can help to provide high-quality, cost-effective care in this increasingly popular form of housing for older people.”

The University of Worcester is working in partnership with the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent, the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, Housing 21 and the Housing Learning and Improvement Network.

The research will run from February 2012 to February 2014. For more information visit http://assetproject.wordpress.com/