Robots providing care and students living in retirement homes – highlights from the ARCO conference

Robots providing care and students living in retirement homes – highlights from the ARCO conference

As affiliate members and supporters of the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) John Spence, Partner and Head of Design at calfordseaden, attended the second annual ARCO conference in Bloomsbury on the 10th May. Read John’s highlights from the conference below:

“There were many interesting sessions throughout the day and one highlight was a thought provoking keynote presentation by Dr Hans Becker, a Dutch “iconoclastic radical” as described by the Financial Times. Dr Hans runs the Humanitas Foundation which is one of the main social services and community building organisations in the Netherlands and aims to support people who temporarily cannot manage on their own. Humanitas empower their residents who live in friendly inclusive communities to laugh, live and be merry – a fine way to spend their last years.

Humanitas have gained international news coverage with their most recent housing programme, which sees students housed alongside retirees. They call this their ‘intergenerational housing programme’ and enables students to live for free, in exchange for 30 hours of voluntary work per month. Perhaps this is the way forward for retirement and student housing in the UK – there is a shortage of both and would help to remove the stigma of old fashioned and dingy retirement homes.

Other important talking points at the conference included the funding of care schemes for people with dementia and altzeihmers. An increased use of robotics has been identified as a way of providing positive interaction with people to ward of loneliness and isolation, whilst also helping with care such as lifting and dressing. Interestingly, the audience were asked whether they would prefer a care worker or robot to help with personal care and 66% of people said they would prefer a robot!

With longer life expectancy increasing it is essential that the current offering of schemes and tenures for older people be reviewed, which is happening now. Creativity must be explored in new models and examples from the US, Australia and New Zealand show there is much more choice being explored elsewhere.”

For more information about our involvement with ARCO, please contact John Spence.