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Flexibility is key in evolving senior housing market

Ron van Bloois, Chairman, Senior Housing and Healthcare Association

Flexibility is key in a fast-growing and fast-changing market like senior accommodation in Europe, experts agreed at Real Asset Media´s Senior Housing and Healthcare Investment Briefing, which took place online yesterday on the REALX.Global platform.

¨The market is evolving constantly,¨ said Charles-Antoine van Aelst, chief investment officer, Aedifica. ¨The demands and requirements of the elderly are very different now, so you need flexibility in your concept as well as in your buildings.”

Knowledge of the local market is crucial and having a local partner and operator is essential to building, developing and maintaining successful senior housing facilities. 

¨Adaptability is required as markets vary,” said Thibault Sartini, CEO of the Cluster New Countries, Orpea Group. ¨We have a strong basis of knowledge and experience, which really helps, but then we have to adapt to local culture, habits and regulations. Also, laws and requirements are constantly changing so we have to be nimble and move quickly.”

Regulations can vary between countries and sometimes within countries too. ¨In Italy for example there are big regional differences between markets and regulations, especially between the North and the South, so projects need to be customised,” said Sartini.

Residential and assisted living need to be distinguished

Across Europe, it is essential to distinguish between residential living and assisted living, as they are very different markets. 

¨In the last few years there has been much more movement in the residential senior living space, as operators and investors have seen opportunities,” van Aelst said. ¨There is still a huge need for assisted living, where residents are highly dependent and need care.”

In such a complex and fast-changing environment it is important for investors, developers and operators to have a point of reference and a place to find accurate, unbiased data, to exchange ideas and experiences and to share best practice.

This is why the Senior Housing & Healthcare Association has made such great strides since it was created, said Ron van Bloois, chairman, SHHA: ¨Our multi-stakeholder platform has made a big impact in Europe, becoming the biggest in terms of geographical spread as well as deal flow. There has already been a lot of interest from beyond Europe, so the next step for us is going global.”

Situations vary in different countries and different market segments, but there is a common thread that links all players in the sector. ¨Our industry leaders focus on the S in ESG, the social impact,” said van Bloois. ¨They all want to make a positive difference in people´s lives, improving the quality of life of care workers as well as residents.”