The senior Living Housing or Retirement Homes sector in India is at a cusp. While, growing number of real estate developers are offering customized projects targeted at senior citizens, there is still a social stigma attached to the concept. Sapna Srivastava talks to a few developers and explores the potential of this sunrise realty sector as also the stumbling blocks in its growth as an asset class.
Increasing life expectancy, an overall enhancement of the standard of living and trend of nuclear families as also financially independent senior citizens has led to the demand of a specialized housing segment. What started in the USA in the 9th century, is now being recognized in India as well. The dedicated housing catering to the needs of the seniors, offering easy access to healthcare, security systems, recreation facilities and social engagement with peers is coming of age. Putting it in perspective, Pankaj Bansal, Director M3M India says, “The concept of homes for aged has undergone a turnaround, with the name itself being senior living. The services include fulfilling the social, security, healthcare, administrative, food and other requirements. In fact, the design of the structure of senior living should solve the architectural aspects such as grab-bars in bathrooms, anti-skid tiles, low-height shelves, bigger balconies for sunlight, nurse/servant rooms in bigger units, primary healthcare facility on campus etc. We firmly believe that such ventures should be made and will add value to the lives of senior citizens across the country.”
The Need of the hour
The changing social environment has prompted developers to come up with developments targeting the independent seniors. Also, seniors are evolving as a customer segment as large percentage of urban educated seniors are well-travelled, socially connected and have specific needs and wants. This presents a tremendous opportunity for developers to innovate and provide projects as per various lifestyle and service needs. Apart from housing, security and convenience, healthcare and wellness is perceived as the most important need of the elderly. But, in most cases the projects fall short of an integrated trained manpower services from geriatric care to paramedical staff. In addition, the real estate environment for seniors should keep in mind the sensitivities unique to Indian cultural. Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing Development Company says, “A nascent concept in India, Senior Living is likely to gain traction in the near future. After two years of extensive research, Tata Housing was the first corporate to enter senior living segment. At Riva Residences spread across 4.5 acres within the township of 25 acres in Bengaluru, the homes have been constructed by Perkins Eastman, USA – the specialized Senior Living Architects and Apollo Tele- Health services manage the health centers inside the township. The offerings include healthcare centers, parks, meditation centers, activity center with indoor games, wellness centres, grocery market and reading rooms, amphitheater, professional housekeeping or gardening services as an option. The complex is also well-equipped with a 24×7 managed health center with senior nurse and paramedic staff.”
Colonel (Veteran) A Sridharan, VSM, Managing Director, Covai Property Centre (India) Pvt Ltd talks about the two models for retirement communities’ prevalent in India. “The developer develops the dwelling and the facility, services and care by himself. This is an embedded concept where number of dwellings can be increased and simultaneously, more number of people can be provided services and care. This model provides continuous revenue to the operator of the retirement community. The second model is that the developer develops the facility for retirement community with the advice on design, drawing etc from the retirement community operator or a consultant. On completion of the project, the developer exits and, the services are provided by the retirement community service provider.”
“For the purpose of managing and operating a retirement house – they fall under three categories – independent living (for healthy and independent seniors), assisted living (for dependents) and rehabilitative care (for ailing and extremely dependent). Senior living projects in India are mostly of the first kind, while the last segment is more of a welfare/social segment.” Brotin Banerjee.
Types of Senior Housing
Depending upon the changing needs as per the growing age, the facilities or the housing solutions would vary. The campuses built for mentally and physically fit seniors will be different in design and services from those catering to residents with vision /hearing impairment, arthritis, and forms of dementia. Taking this into consideration, senior living projects globally propose a concept of ‘age in place’.
- Independent Living: A typical Independent Living unit is architecturally designed similar to traditional housing but with special design interventions ranging from better lighting, mobility facilitation, wider hallways & doors to antiskid floorings and bathrooms & kitchens planned to accommodate w h e e l c h a i r s a n d w a l k e r s . Socialization and recreational are an important feature of the Independent Living community.
- Assisted Living: Assisted Living units provide care workers to assist the residents in day-to-day activities. In some projects, the assisted living units are provided within the independent living complex. The residents have access to short and long term nursing needs which reduces the need to travel to hospitals and also instills a healthy form of lifestyle.
- Skilled Nursing Care: Skilled Nursing Care provides residents with nursing care facility for taking care of physical or mental disabilities and the residents are provided
with physical, occupational and rehabilitative therapies. The prime objective of these developments is to provide a holistic and yet homelike environment to the residents.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities: These progressive projects provide independent, assisted and skilled nursing care living all within one campus that allows for a continuum of care and residents
benefit from having all facilities in the same environment. Such projects are yet to make a presence in India.