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Housing revolution

The challenge of housing an ageing population is not confined to western countries, as Orbit Group found out when it hosted a visit from housing experts from Shanghai.

Chinese visitors attended Orbit’s St Bede’s independent Living scheme, in Bedford, to look at its award-winning design and facilities, as well as learning about UK housing options for older people. 

The delegates explained they are looking to Europe for ideas due to the country facing the challenges of a rapidly increasing older population. The country is feeling the effects of dislocated families as younger people move from rural to urban areas, and a population in which people are living longer but with a lower birth rate resulting in fewer families being able to care for older relatives and fewer people active in the labour market to provide taxes and services.

The visit to Orbit’s St Bede’s scheme, which won a Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) award for its design, saw delegates from Shanghai join in communal activities including a Knit and Natter session and tour the facilities, as well as signing a declaration to share information on the development of older people’s services between the two countries.

Vicky Harwood, director of Orbit Independent Living, said: "Supporting and caring for an ageing population in China is a massive issue. There is a care home in Beijing which has a waiting list of over 10, 000 people and a 100 year wait.

"We are delighted to share our knowledge and experience of building innovative housing solutions, and St Bede’s is an exemplar scheme in how we are achieving this."

St Bedes Chinese
From left (back) Ni Hui and Ma Lilu, join Orbit’s extra care development manager Lorraine Mansfield and Wang Peng to sample a Knit and Natter session with St Bede’s resident Pamela Hancock (front).