Integrated Retirement Communities are key to saving the social care system and tackling the care worker crisis, says a new report

Findings reveal that Integrated Retirement Communities, otherwise known as housing-with-care, are essential to preventing the UK’s social care system collapsing and could reduce the care staff shortage – but only if the sector is given the backing to grow to levels seen in New Zealand, Australia and the US.

The ‘Putting the Care in Housing with Care’ report, published by ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators), says care can be provided more effectively and efficiently in Integrated Retirement Communities due to staff giving care to residents onsite and not needing to travel in between visits. It also found the quality of care was higher.

Integrated Retirement Communities combine independent living for older people, with 24/7 onsite staffing, domiciliary care for those who need it, and a wide range of services and facilities.

The report compares the care and support requirements of people living in Integrated Retirement Communities with those living in traditional family homes.

The findings calculate that, for a typical Integrated Retirement Community with 200 people living there, 16 fewer care staff are needed than if the same levels of care were provided in the wider community.


  • Integrated Retirement Communities cut time care staff spend travelling, improve health of residents and can reduce the need for care workers by 60,000
  • Findings come amid predictions of 490,000 additional care staff being needed by 2035
  • ‘Putting the care in Housing with Care’ report also finds care quality in Integrated Retirement Communities well above average
The findings come after charity Skills for Care recently estimated that 490,000 additional social care staff would be required by 2035, if current trends in the growth of the over-65 population continue.

As well as highlighting the important role that Integrated Retirement Communities have in tackling these workforce challenges, the new report by ARCO finds that care quality in Integrated Retirement Communities stands well above average.

Some 97 per cent of the domiciliary care agencies run by ARCO’s Members in Integrated Retirement Communities are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), compared to 88 per cent of domiciliary care agencies more widely.

The quality care provided in Integrated Retirement Communities helps residents stay independent, healthy and well for longer, and cuts NHS and social care costs.

Research shows that these settings provided a safer place for older people during the pandemic than living in their family homes.

ARCO says its report highlights the urgent need to build more Integrated Retirement Communities in the UK.

We have seen during the pandemic the vital role that Integrated Retirement Communities have in keeping older people safe, healthy and well

ARCO is also calling on the Government to act quickly to set up the cross-department task force on housing-with-care that it says it is considering, and to include measures to expand housing-with-care in the forthcoming social care White Paper.

“It is clear that without significantly increasing the number of Integrated Retirement Communities, the UK care system will collapse because of a shortage of care workers,” declared Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO.

“This is not just about doing good, but avoiding terribly bad outcomes,”

“Our country is facing huge workforce challenges in social care, and if a sector can provide high-quality care with tens of thousands fewer staff, we should be doing everything we can to boost that sector and free up staff to so desperately needed by other parts of the social care system.

Nick Sanderson, Chair of ARCO and Chief Executive of Audley Group, added, “We have seen during the pandemic the vital role that Integrated Retirement Communities have in keeping older people safe, healthy and well – and the provision of high-quality care is central to this.

“This report shows that we must urgently expand the Integrated Retirement Community sector not only to improve health and wellbeing, but to help the country face the workforce challenges in social care that are already here now, and will only get more prominent.

“Achieving this requires the Government to do its bit – and that means removing the policy barriers holding the sector back by setting up a cross-department task force immediately.”

To learn more about ARCO please visit www.arcouk.org