The continuous improvement in general living standards and medical science is resulting in people living longer. According to the Government Office for Science, by 2040, nearly one in seven UK residents are projected to be aged over 75. The shifting of demographics has driven rapid growth in the senior living sector, and this upward trend is expected to accelerate further, proving popular with investors attracted to the prospect of steady long-term returns. We delve into how the sector is adapting and how hotelification is being used to enhance the occupant experience. 

Quality and community are high on the agenda 

Retirees are progressively looking for high-quality, well-managed homes in good locations that also put independence, wellbeing, and placemaking high on the agenda. The quality of service and amenities that a scheme offers to those in later life is a big differentiator in the selection process. The industry is seeing many developers and operators move towards offering a model that features a more community-based approach. With examples such as on-site retail and leisure facilities, as well as social initiatives that take place in open communal spaces.  

Design, function and amenities  

Beginning with aspirational design is key to creating a warm and welcoming environment in an assisted living facility. The design stage needs to be done right in order to achieve a desired modern but practical environment for users. The aesthetics of the facility should not only be visually appealing but also strategically applied to fit the needs and wants of the residents. Open floor plans, wide hallways, natural light, and familiar spaces are key design considerations.  

Interior design also plays a large part in the overall feel a facility provides and should work well with the layout to offer comfort. The typical previous approach of converting old properties such as houses and hotels has led to a large proportion of current capacity lacking modern institutional-grade facilities and highlights the need for more purpose-built accommodation that can cater for these needs.  

Appleby Blue Almshouse, Southwark 

One such project that Hollis has been involved in is Appleby Blue Almshouse, Southwark, in London. A 57-bed senior living development designed by Stirling prize winning architects Witherford, Watson and Mann. The team at Hollis provided development monitoring services and reported back to funds, also providing advice on cost, programme, management and statutory compliance. This project started in March 2020 during COVID-19 and was completed in summer 2023, with many individual trade contractors as it was through a construction management procurement route.  

The purpose-built design incorporated a number of advanced features that set a pioneering approach for senior social housing. From a community kitchen that brings people together to beautiful courtyard gardens and a multitude of shared community spaces and resources throughout the development, and with 11 of the homes being fully wheelchair accessible, this project offers its residents comfort and a community that supports healthy wellbeing. 

Exception to the rule? 

Despite the multiple benefits towards care needs, wellbeing, and practicality, these types of projects with the hotelification approach may not be seen as a long-term trend in the senior living sector as, ultimately, they’re expensive and based on funding to fully execute.  

Design-led retirement homes with beneficial functions, appealing features, and a community-based feel result in the occupants enjoying and loving their surroundings. From design and planning through to long-term operation, getting the right property advice is vital. 

Our sector experience covers a full range of senior living schemes, from retirement villages and independent or co-living developments to assisted living, institutional-grade care and nursing homes, including clinical facilities for complex conditions. Our surveyors, engineers, project managers and technical experts have a vast understanding of the property lifecycle and can help with acquisition, development, asset management and disposal.  

Get in touch with our Head of development monitoring, Phil Hughes, who can assess feasibility and advise with a practical outlook.