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Future care homes must offer autonomy and individualism, says Gen Z

Younger people say they want their future care homes to offer autonomy and individualism, as well as better connections with the wider community.

Examples include integrating childcare facilities in care homes, to help older people stay connected with families and solve problems associated with rising childcare costs, according to focus group research of generations X, Y, and Z (people born between 1965 and 2012/15).  

The research, run by Oxford University students in conjunction with care home developer Castleoak, also revealed ongoing negative perceptions of care homes: only one in six respondents said they think positively about the sector.

Negative words include: ‘disabled’, ‘smell’, ‘isolated’, ‘removed’ and ‘cheap’, which contrasted with aspirations of care homes that are ‘independent’, ‘home’ and ‘assisted’.

Key factors that would give people piece of mind about moving into a care home include quality of care (50 per cent) followed by emotionally available staff (28 per cent), and having family close by (25 per cent).

Other recommendations are to create sustainable environments surrounded by green space and facilities that give residents a sense of ‘going somewhere’.

Emerging themes were also identified as part of the research, including robotic care homes, AI diagnostics, autonomy-enabling technology and technology usability.

The research is the first in a series of projects which care home developer Castleoak is partnering with Oxford University Student Consultancy to gain insight into how innovation can be driven in the care sector.

Kate Still, COO at Castleoak, says: “If we’re not talking to younger generations they’re never going to give [residential care] a second thought and it’s going to continue to be low on the priority list. This is a direct barrier to innovation and to integrating care homes into our communities.

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