During last week’s Later Living Conference organised by Property Week there was a big focus on the residents of later living schemes and various discussions on how they are portrayed by operators and other sector consultants in the media.
Yet despite this people-centric focus, we saw presentation after presentation in which no real people featured at all! Rather, we saw artificially posed images and caricatures of older people drinking wine, sipping coffee and walking along beaches wearing Panama hats. We were also told that the sector’s future residents will be funky 70-year-olds performing handstands, wearing leather jackets and dying their hair blue.
Whilst it’s encouraging that the sector is trying to better understand its residents’ needs, we need to be careful not to base our schemes on the aspirational and imagined residents of retirement living brochures or assumptions about what the lifestyles of the next generation of senior citizens might be. After all, the Later Living Sector is not only about residents; it is much more complex than that. It is about creating residents’ communities; it’s about hospitality and care. We create places for living and places to work. We offer a range of hospitality services, as well as care and support. All elements work holistically to create successful schemes that will benefit real residents, enjoying life however they themselves see fit.