By 2039, there will be 9.9m people aged 75 and over in the UK, while one in 12 of the population will be over 80. Currently, there is a limited supply of supported accommodation available to older people who are looking to downsize; the availability of retirement living options relative to the over-80 population is substantially lower than in other developed countries. This is having a detrimental effect on housing market liquidity and is likely to increase the demands on primary and social care.
Birchgrove is an assisted living initiative, launched by Bridges in 2017. It provides purpose-built high-quality assisted living apartments for the elderly (typically 80+) who are looking to downsize or live in a more secure and/or communal environment. Birchgrove developments will also include on-site care support as well as community and leisure facilities. Birchgrove operates on a rental model – a relatively rare approach in this sector – whereby elderly customers can rent 1-2 bedroom apartments without lengthy contracts. It aims to offer its tenants the benefits of independence without the burdens of home ownership.
The first development was next to Queen Mary’s Hospital in in Sidcup, Kent and comprises 74 units, which could ultimately accommodate over 100 people. Two more sites have since been developed in Ewell and Woking, while a further three sites have now been acquired and are at various stages of development. The goal is to ultimately deliver around 400 Birchgrove units across the south east of England, housing up to 600 people.
Loneliness and isolation are thought to increase the likelihood of mortality by over 25% in older people. By providing purpose-built assisted living units for rent in attractive developments, we believe we can help to address this challenge, while also alleviating some of the pressures on the NHS and the care home sector.
The assisted living market in the UK is still under-supplied, with a limited choice of accommodation and tenure types. By creating the Birchgrove model, Bridges hopes not only to provide these much-needed facilities, but also to play a catalytic role in proving the model and helping to develop the wider sector (thereby increasing provision more broadly).
The development will also utilise a range of environmentally-friendly construction initiatives where viable. It will also look to enhance the health & well-being of occupants through good design.