This is an interesting move by Legal & General, who have today announced a £5m gift to the city of Newcastle. The cash will be used in two distinct projects. Initially and with immediate effect, it will help fund additional independent living facilities for older residents within the Future Homes Alliance project at Newcastle Helix, managed by the City Council’s housing partner, Karbon Homes.
There is a wider point worth noting however. A generation of baby boomers born in the late 40s to the early 60s has already, or are about to, reach pension age. Many will decide that they need some type of assisted living, a gated community or downsize their home. So the opportunities for insurers to manage asset portfolios, sell healthcare plans, life cover etc as well as provide housing, are definitely there. Just saying. Here’s the word from L&G;
The facilities will be made up of 66 affordable units along with five demonstrator homes to test the latest innovations and products to help support ageing and environmental sustainability in a real-world setting. All new homes will be integrated within the Future Homes development, the first wave of residential development at Helix, which was approved by Newcastle City Council’s Planning Committee on Friday 28th August.
The second, larger component of the donation will provide core funding for a 20/25-bed “new model” residential care home. This ground-breaking project, for which Newcastle City Council will identify a site, will be a prototype which moves away from the traditional large-scale care home to a more domestic, clustered, communal setting. Its design and operation will incorporate key lessons learned from the COVID pandemic, including on infection control and operation of lockdowns and “support bubbles”, helping to minimise negative effects on residents, particularly those living with dementia. The care home’s construction will be led by the City Council who will also own and operate the facility.
The plans showcase the Council’s strategy to provide better integrated services for elderly residents, working closely with NHS, University and voluntary and community sector partners. Providing better, community focused services that are holistic and built around independent living has greater benefits for the health and wellbeing of residents.
Both the independent living facilities and the care home will be built to enable best use of new technology including telehealth, telemedicine and remote monitoring using the “internet of things”. As well as providing state-of-the-art facilities for residents, both types of accommodation will provide valuable data to help grow knowledge of how best to operate care facilities in a post-COVID environment, facilitating maximum collaboration between facilities and the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Urban Observatory as well as other researchers and providers of care.
For Legal & General, funding these facilities forms a further component part of the company’s “Let’s Care for Britain” programme. This already includes a £20m, seven-year investment in research into future elderly care by Edinburgh University, which is already working on this in partnership with Newcastle University. This support has already “crowded in” an additional £20m of funding from other sources.