Representatives of a north east retirement village visited the Houses of Parliament recently on a mission to gain backing from law-makers for measures to ensure better choice in living options for older people.

Middleton Hall Retirement Village, based at Middleton St George, near Darlington was one of five retirement communities taking part in a national event as part of an initiative to highlight ways to enable older people to live better in later years.

The event, which was attended by dozens of MPs, Lords and other key figures, was organised by ARCO (the Associated Retirement Community Operators) to highlight its ‘Vision 2030’, aimed at providing Retirement Communities for 250,000 people by 2030.

As the first ever parliamentary event for the retirement community sector, it provided parliamentarians with a showcase of the ambition and diversity operators currently offer in providing housing, care and support services to older people.

ARCO and its members have pledged action on ten specific areas as part of its ‘Vision 2030’. Central to many of these is a need for the Government to recognise the sector in its own right and ultimately to empower residents through a Retirement Communities Act for the UK.

The UK is lagging far behind comparable countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the USA – where between 5% and 6% of older people live in Retirement Communities. In the UK the figure is 0.6%, resulting in significant extra strain on the NHS and the social care system.

As a result of pledges of support for the Retirement Community sector from the 80 plus parliamentarians, as well as charity and business leaders, at the event, ARCO believes that the UK has now taken a significant step towards meeting the housing, support and care needs of its ageing population.

Baroness Greengross who is the Patron of ARCO said:

“Retirement Communities can play a key role in solving the housing, social care and wellbeing crises facing this country. I and many of my colleagues are committed to doing all we can to help tens of thousands more people benefit from this amazing model and to bringing the UK closer to international standards.”

Glyn Davies MP who sponsored the event said:

“Retirement Communities are a very interesting sector who clearly have a huge amount to offer the UK’s health, social care and housing sectors. They are already making a big difference and I look forward to seeing them do more in future. Those of us in Parliament who support them are keen to do all we can to make sure that they get the clarity and recognition they need to grow.”

Michael Voges, Executive Director at ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators), said:

“As a sector we have great ambitions to enable tens of thousands of older people to live independent, fulfilled lives for as long as possible. Recent years have already seen significant growth in our sector. However, we need to do a lot more, and we are delighted that so many MPs, Lords, charity and business leaders have pledged their support to our Vision 2030”.

As one of ARCO’s approved operators, the award-winning Middleton Hall was one a select group to be invited to attend the event where its recent announcement of the sale of its business to its staff impressed visitors to its stand.

Jeremy Walford, Managing Director at Middleton Hall said:

“It was great to find Parliamentary interest in Middleton Hall’s plans for Employee Ownership as an alternative model for social care.  Vision 2030 is all about increasing the choice of retirement communities and business models where older people can enjoy life with a supportive community around them.”