With our population growing and growing older, providing the right housing options for people who need supported living can make a huge difference to health, wellbeing and associated costs to social care and the NHS.

Steadily growing as a subset of the housing industry, Extra Care has been quietly helping thousands of people to improve the choices that they have in later life as well as making a small but important contribution to the housing mix.  

Designed for people who need some level of care or support, Extra Care neatly fills the gap between sheltered housing and residential care home accommodation, typically leasehold or rented, offering the benefits of communal facilities but enabling residents to retain as much independence as they wish.

Shared facilities are those that might be expected such as a laundry, a café/restaurant and varying levels of domestic support depending on the need of residents. Many also typically offer landscaped gardens, versatile hobby rooms as well as shops and hairdressing salons enabling them to encourage the wider community within.

It is a given that people want a warm, secure environment that meets individual requirements. But research from housing charity Shelter suggests older people spend 70% - 90% of their time in their home, so an environment where people want to spend time is essential. Also important is a home that is well designed and built as well as one in a great location that is near local amenities.   

The figures of the total numbers of people living in Extra Care housing is currently small, with just 0.5% of people over 65 living in these facilities and around 5,000 units built last year. But we know the percentage of the population 65 years or older will continue to grow. It increased between 1975 and 2015, from 14.1% of the population to 17.8%, and is projected to continue to grow to nearly 25% of the population by 2045.

Of perhaps greatest importance is the broader role Extra Care plays in the housing mix as well as the implication on health and wellbeing. In summary, benefits include:

  • Enables older or less able people in bigger homes to downsize into more suitable accommodation, freeing up housing stock to be more efficiently used - for example as much needed family housing
  • Encourages independent living, with fewer burdens on local authorities as Extra Care tends to be less expensive than care home accommodation
  • Better social interaction opportunities, providing important physical and mental health wellbeing which reduces impact on stretched NHS resources
  • Communal facilities under one roof can be used for wider community benefit for example café, restaurant, hairdresser, meeting rooms
  • Helps local people to access a diverse range of tenure options under one roof depending on eligibility criteria, all in a tenure blind setting
  • Developments tend to be built in schemes of 50 or more apartments, making good use of space where accommodation is most needed

Amongst a number of our Extra Care schemes currently on site, Rydon is delivering an Extra Care housing scheme in Lewisham for One Housing. This provider is broadening their Extra Care offering into the private market with the launch of a “luxury” subsidiary brand, Baycroft and has ambitions to work with the NHS to identify surplus land that could be used for Extra Care alongside housing for nurses and health workers.

At the grand opening of Rydon’s Extra Care scheme for Optivo – The Orangery, Sidley, local MP Huw Merriman attended the opening event and said: “28 percent of my constituents are over the age of 65 and the national average is only 17 percent. So there is an absolute need to deliver what you’ve delivered here. This is a shining light of what can be done.”

Keith Hinkley, East Sussex County Council’s director of adult social care and health, added: “This is a great example of a partnership working to provide a facility that will benefit the whole community. This development offers an alternative to residential care and high cost community care for older people, allows couples to continue to live together and helps to combat social isolation."

With an ageing population, significant challenges and opportunities are being created in the provision of residential care. What’s important is to offer flexibility and options to individuals and couples as they grow older. Rydon understands this and our experience in the delivery of projects within of modern care standards with our partners ensure Extra Care homes genuinely provide the supported living our society needs.