A new study looking at how housing-with-care has coped over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic has found that retirement village and extra care housing operators successfully ‘safeguarded lives’ of residents and staff.
The RE-COV study, which was led by the St Monica Trust and based on a survey of 38 operators, aimed to better understand the experiences of retirement villages and extra care housing during the pandemic, including the effectiveness of measures taken to protect the health and well-being of residents and staff.
Funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust and supported by the Housing LIN, the study found that there was a lower than expected proportion of survey participants’ residents who died from COVID-19 in comparison to people with the same age profile living in the general population in England.
According to the study, the evidence for the success of housing-with-care in dealing with the pandemic was also revealed in the positive effects of the lengths that operators and staff took to help support residents’ activities of daily living, social engagement, community and personal activities.
Rachael Dutton, St Monica Trust’s COVID National Research Project lead, commented: ‘0.97% of retirement village and housing scheme residents died from confirmed COVID-19 from March to December 2020, which was less than the 1.09% of people with the same age profiles who died from COVID-19 living in the general population in England.
‘Given the generally higher levels of health, care and support needs of extra care housing residents this is a very positive outcome. The residents of retirement village only operators also had the lowest COVID-19 death rate of 0.51%.’
The research also listed some of the measures adopted in retirement village and extra care housing that operators felt were the most effective in protecting their residents and staff during the pandemic.
These included the closing of communal facilities, the suspending of activities or the restricting of residents’ access to areas. They also included the issuing of full Personal Protective Equipment and its correct use.
The RE-COV study highlighted the favourable experience of many residents living in retirement villages and extra care housing during the pandemic. Positive outcomes for residents included high levels of feeling safe, supported and comforted, knowing other people were around, plus enjoyment from organised outdoor activities.
Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, the principle body representing both private and not-for-profit operators of housing-with-care schemes in the UK, said: ‘The past year has seen an overwhelming vindication of the housing-with-care model.
‘Despite the huge challenges presented by the pandemic, housing-with-care has performed brilliantly in keeping their residents safe, supporting them to stay active and independent and in supporting the wider health and social care system.
‘It is now clear that older people have reached the same conclusion and are turning to housing-with-care in record numbers. In every part of the UK we now need far more housing-with-care and to remove the barriers slowing sector growth.
‘It is time for more older people to have the opportunity to benefit from the safety, security and supported independence which housing-with-care provides.’