Retirement Security Ltd was founded in 1984 by its present Chairman, Bob Bessell, who had previously been Director of Social Services for Warwickshire County Council.
Arising from his responsibility for the local authority Old People’s Homes, he concluded that the needs of many older people could best be met by a development of sheltered housing, which Retirement Security Ltd called ‘Very Sheltered Housing’, but which the government subsequently called ‘Extra-care housing’.
The overall aim was to enable older people to retain their independence for the whole of their lives. The means of achieving this were that all of the facilities, both the private dwellings and the communal areas should be accessible even to someone confined to a wheelchair; there should be sufficient staff and the communal facilities were to ensure that a 3 course meal was to be available every day, either in the dining room, or taken to the private dwelling.
The immediate effect of introducing this in the District Councils’ Housing plans, with financial support from the County Council, was to decimate the waiting list for the Old People’s Homes and so Retirement Security Ltd was set up to make similar provision in the private sector, in recognition that so many older people own their own homes.
There are now 32 developments of Very Sheltered Housing, comprising 1600 properties in which Retirement Security Ltd is either the Freeholder or Managing Agent, (usually both), located throughout England from the south coast, to Southport and Lincoln, in the north.
Although many features of Very Sheltered Housing, as pioneered by Retirement Security Ltd have been adopted by other providers, the model of ‘the Owners’ Company’, whereby the leaseholders also constitute the management company, has not been copied by anyone else in the retirement sector, even though, it is commonplace in blocks of apartments in London and other large cities.
Retirement Security Ltd acts as managing agent and company secretary to each of the Owners’ Companies, who are free to give notice to terminate the arrangement. Despite the problems this can cause, these are totally outweighed by the advantages of the leaseholders accepting responsibility for the maintenance and development of their communities.