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ARCO’s What Next? Conference Returns for A Second Successful Year

conference hallOn 10 and 11 May 2017 ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) was delighted to hold their annual conference and knowledge exchange day – ‘What Next? 2017: A formative year for housing-with-care?’. After the sell-out success of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s conference returned with big ambitions, and had a fantastic outcome, expanding to bring together over 360 delegates, sponsors and exhibitors across the two days. There were a range of high-profile delegates from almost 200 organisations, including senior executives from extra care housing and retirement village operators, and representatives from the public sector, suppliers and investors with a growing interest in this expanding sector. The conference was supported by Gold Sponsors, Nicol Thomas and Carterwood, and Silver Sponsors Trowers & Hamlins, Castleoak, JLL and ENS.

This year’s speakers engaged with the most current trends, challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and shared their expertise and visions of the future of housing-with-care. The conference also saw the exclusive preview of new research from JLL on resale values of housing-with-care properties in retirement communities run by ARCO members, and from ProMatura on retirement community resident satisfaction undertaken in collaboration with ARCO.

The first day of the Conference on 10 May began with a highly enjoyable keynote presentation from Dr Hans Becker, Chairman of the Humanitas Foundation. This captured everyone’s imagination with a discussion of Humanitas’s ‘”Yes” Culture’, and facilitation of residents’ happiness.

ARCO’s Executive Director Michael Voges then joined Kyle Holling from Trowers & Hamlins to outline panel discussionrecent policy developments in the sector, replacing planned keynote addresses from the Housing Minister and Law Commissioner. Their late addition to the programme following the announcement of the general election emphasised the fast-paced nature of change, and they discussed potential policy priorities for the next government we will be electing on 8 June. A panel session by extra care providers looked in more detail at one of the biggest policy changes facing the sector: the proposals to cap rents and service charges in the extra care portion of the sector at Local Housing Allowance rates. They debated how the reform may shape the sector, and how extra care providers could respond to one of their biggest challenges yet.

The second keynote presentation by Professor Graham Stokes, Global Director of Dementia Care at Bupa, outlined the importance of understanding the dementia challenge in a global context. Skilfully weaving impactful statistics with moving personal stories, the presentation ensured that the individual impact on people with dementia and their families remained central to a discussion of how the sector should expand and adapt to be part of the solution to the crisis in dementia care.

Responses to a poll of conference delegates

Responses to a poll of conference delegates

A reoccurring theme throughout the day was the huge potential of new technologies within the retirement community setting, and as a response to the challenges of an ageing population. This was discussed in-depth in a presentation by Dr Praminda Caleb-Solly, from Bristol Robotics Lab, and PhD candidate Katie Winkle. A surprise appearance from Pepper the Robot demonstrated the potential use of robotics to assist with care, exercise and motivation. Delegates responded positively to the presentation, and an interactive poll found that 66% would prefer a robot to help with personal hygiene tasks t0 a paid carer.

In the next presentation Philip Schmid and Anthony Oldfield from JLL presented findings from their important new research on resale values within the retirement community sector. This found that for ARCO member schemes (which provide housing, care and support services, and where operators have an ongoing interest in maintaining a high level of service) resale values track house price inflation, and 80% of resales have risen in value. This was complemented by a case study by Nigel Sibley, Chief Executive of LifeCare Residences, which showed how ongoing operators such as LifeCare continually invest in their schemes over the long term and have a business interest in ensuring properties in their schemes rise in value.robot


Dr Margaret Wylde and Peter Robinson from ProMatura also presented on their new customer research, undertaken in collaboration with ARCO. They gave a preview of their findings from the largest UK survey of retirement community residents, providing a unique insight into the experiences, motivations and opinions of residents, and helping us better understand the market. Comparison with findings from US retirement communities provided a thought provoking discussion about what providers here are doing right, and how best to ensure residents feel ‘at home’.

The proggin bar 3ramme ended with a final presentation and panel discussion that investigated new models of tenure. This showed how, instead of focusing on affordable rent or leasehold, new models of tenure might be the next frontier for the retirement communities market. The conference was followed by the ARCO Drinks Reception, kindly sponsored by Nicol Thomas and Carterwood. This was once again brimming with delegates, and featured a very well received new addition – a Gin Bar of local gins and premium mixers. Delegates continued the day’s lively discussions well into the evening.

The Knowledge Exchange Day on Thursday 11 May provided the opportunity for more in-depth discussion with a choice of 10 interactive workshops. These covered topics from vertical villages and event fees, to the US market, deeper insight into the investment outlook for the sector, and the importance of sociable design. There were also tours of Bankhouse, One Housing’s brand new extra care scheme, overlooking the River Thames and Westminster. Delegates found this day highly informative, and a fantastic way to cement and develop ideas raised on the first conference day.

Click here to view our Storify story of key tweets from the day. 

Click here to find out more about ARCO membership.

Presentations and a feedback survey were emailed to all delegates. Please email events@arcouk.org for more information about the 2017 conference, or information about next year’s events.

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Law Commission Review of Events Fees


  • The Law Commission is advocating for greater regulation of event fees – it has set out a number of transparency and disclosure requirements that operators will need to comply with.
  • The Law Commission is urging the government to crack down on rogue landlords who are not transparently disclosing event fees.

In response to today’s Law Commission report on Events Fees in Retirement Properties, Michael Voges, ARCO’s Executive Director, makes the following statement:

“ARCO has been saying for years that we need more regulation on event fees, not less, so we are very supportive of the proposals to add statutory requirements for the disclosure of event fees. It’s been long overdue, and we believe that an event fee that has not been transparently disclosed should not be charged.

In other countries, event fees are a well-established mechanism that can enable older people to use their housing equity to ‘enjoy now and pay later’, for example by reducing their service charge or deferring some of the costs of building communal facilities. We believe that the Law Commission’s reforms will lead to increased supply of specialist housing that addresses the housing and care needs of our ageing population.

ARCO already runs a Consumer Code scheme, which we assess our members against, and this includes clarity up front about event fees. However, this is only applicable to our members and thus not compulsory for organisations outside of ARCO. Therefore, we support the Law Commission’s proposals to make disclosure compulsory, as we believe this will increase consumer protection and thus confidence in the sector.

As an additional step, we would like to encourage the Government and Law Commission to introduce additional regulation in the form of a Retirement Communities Act or similar, like we see in other countries.”



Notes to editors:


  1. About ARCO: ARCO (the Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the trade associations of operators of housing-with-care developments for older people, comprised of 28 private and not-for-profit operators of retirement communities. (Please note that we do not represent the more traditional retirement housing model, where no care is delivered.)
  2. About retirement communities: Retirement communities are designed with the needs of older people in mind. They typically consist of individual one or two bedroom flats or small houses, located in a community of similar properties. Residents have access to a range of services and facilities, which will usually include optional on-site care, 24-hour staffing, and dining and leisure facilities, and may also include bars, gyms and craft rooms. Retirement communities are also sometimes referred to as retirement villages; extra care housing; housing-with-care; assisted living; close care apartments; or independent living apartments. They sit in between traditional retirement homes (which have less extensive staffing and leisure facilities) and care homes.
  3. Benefits of retirement communities:
    • Meeting the needs of an ageing population: Older people need and want choice in their housing for later life. However, at present housing options for older people are limited. Retirement communities are an important element of housing choice for older people. Developing the capacity of the retirement community sector is vital to ensuring that the UK’s housing market is fit to meet the needs of an ageing population.
    • Promoting independence, security and wellbeing: Older people living in retirement communities are likely to experience lower levels of loneliness and social isolation. A 2014 study by the International Longevity Centre found that 82% of respondents in retirement communities said they hardly or never felt isolated, and only 1% often felt isolated.
    • Reducing costs and encouraging more efficient use of resources: Residents in retirement communities are able to receive specialist care in their homes if needed, enabling them to return home from hospital earlier. They are also less likely to enter hospital. For example, one way in which retirement communities improve health is by preventing falls. Retirement community properties are designed and built with adaptations to support independence and research shows that those living in these specialist homes are between 1.5 and 2.8 times less likely to have a fall than those living in homes without adaptations. This helps to reduce pressure on NHS services. A recent study found that NHS costs were reduced by 38% for those moving into retirement village housing and NHS costs for ‘frail’ residents had reduced by 51.5% after 12 months.
    • Responding to the housing shortage: Older people moving to a retirement community will typically ‘downsize’, freeing up much needed and under-occupied family sized homes. If all those interested in moving into a retirement property were able to do so, research suggests that approximately 3.29 million properties would be released, including nearly 2 million three-bedroom homes.
  4. For more information: Please contact Michael Voges, ARCO’s Executive Director on 0203 697 1204 or at michaelvoges@arcouk.org.
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Older people’s housing comes of age


  • Housing white paper recognises need for serious debate on housing for older people
  • Many older people wish to downsize but face acute shortage of suitable properties
  • Encouraging supply gives older people choice, frees up homes, and eases pressures on mid-life carers and social care services

Today’s housing white paper was characterised by incremental improvements. Perhaps the most significant development is the white paper’s clear and consistent focus on the housing needs of older people, says ARCO, the trade body for retirement communities.

Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said: “The housing white paper finally gives older people’s housing and support needs the attention they deserve. We welcome the government’s commitment to exploring ways of stimulating the market to deliver new homes for older people. This should free up homes for younger families wishing to trade up.

Retirement communities provide supportive environments and enable older people to live independently for longer. Increasing supply will also benefit the ‘sandwich generation’ caught between work or childcare commitments and caring for their older relatives. Taken together, these measures represent an important step in the right direction, towards a housing market fit for the future.”

Thirty-three per cent of over 60s would like to downsize if suitable properties were available, but many retirement communities (providing care and support) operate long waiting lists owing to shortage of supply.

The white paper spells out that planning authorities will need clear policies to meet the housing requirements of older people. In addition, the government has signalled its intention to explore ways to stimulate the market to deliver new homes for older people, including models of housing with support.

“The government has clearly recognised the need to increase housing supply for older people. We now need to move from conversation to construction, and start building homes that older people so desperately need,” said Michael Voges.



Notes to editors:

  1. Retirement communities, also known as housing-with-care or extra care developments, enable older people to buy or rent homes with access to on-site amenities and domiciliary care if needed.
  2. ARCO – Associated Retirement Community Operators –  has 28 members (both private and not-for-profit), who together make up 50% of the UK’s retirement community market. Please see http://arcouk.org/ and http://helptomove.org.uk/
  3. A Demos report found that 33% of over 60s would like to downsize if suitable retirement homes were available. If just half of those interested in downsizing were able to, 4 million older people could free up 3.5 million family sized homes. https://www.demos.co.uk/publications/topoftheladder
  4. Prevalence estimates of ‘sandwich caring’ vary but current indicators are that up to 10% of the population provide sandwich care. 84% of sandwich carers are women. Please see http://www.cpa.org.uk/information/reviews/CPA-Rapid-Review-Older-and-sandwich-generation-carers-and-the-impact-of-caring-review-and-references.pdf
  5. Research shows that residents in retirement communities experience better wellbeing and resilience than those in general needs housing. They are less likely to enter hospital and residential caring institutions, and overall likely to spend less time in hospital, compared to those in the community. See http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/establishing_the_extra_in_extra_care_perspectives_from_three_extra_care_hou and http://www.aston.ac.uk/lhs/research/centres-facilities/archa/extracare-project/
  6. Michael Voges is available for interview. Please contact Sarah Mindham on 020 3697 1204 (sarahmindham@arcouk.org) or Michael Voges on 07415 985 985.
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Media Enquiries

For all media enquiries please contact:

Michael Voges
07415 985 985