Combining housing, health and social care cuts NHS costs, retirement village study finds

Combining housing, health and social care services can improve quality of life for older people and cut costs to the NHS, Aston University researchers have found.

A three-year project by Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) studied older people living in ExtraCare Charitable Trust villages, which have on-site support and care services. The villages have homes and facilities that are fully accessible for wheelchair users and people with impaired mobility, and provide a range of activities for residents.

The Aston study considered the wellbeing of 162 new residents, with quantitative measurements of health, cognitive ability and mobility taken at the point of entry and again at three, 12 and 18 months. Health and social care usage and costs were also monitored.

Key findings of the study include:

  • NHS costs for ExtraCare residents were cut by 38% over 12 months compared with their costs when they first moved in
  • Residents experienced a reduction in the duration of unplanned hospital stays, from 8-14 days to 1-2 days
  • Routine GP appointments for residents fell 46% after a year
  • Numbers of people with clinical levels of depression fell by 64.3% over 18 months
  • Of the residents who arrived in a ‘pre-frail’ condition, 19% had returned to a ‘resilient’ state 18 months later
  • After 18 months, residents experienced a 10% improvement in their autobiographical memory – the ability to recall events, objects and people.

Chair of the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, Martin Shreeve, said: “It’s time for funders and policy makers to get behind this model which has become so popular with older people.”

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