Retirement Living Guides > ARCO UK - Representing the UK Integrated Retirement Community Sector

ARCO UK - Representing the UK Integrated Retirement Community Sector

Charters Village in East Grinstead

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ARCO - the Associated Retirement Community Operators - are dedicated to promoting high standards of retirement living across the UK. There’s been a huge increase in the number of retirees moving into retirement living developments, with a Knight Frank survey forecasting an increase in the value of the retirement housing market from £39.6 billion in 2019 to over £55 billion in 2023.

ARCO's members are committed to creating vibrant, inclusive and safe environments that promote independence, wellbeing and a fulfilling lifestyle for older adults.

Here, we've explained who ARCO are, how they help retirement seekers and how integrated retirement communities work. We’ve also listed some of the best ARCO-affiliated retirement properties!

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In this article:

  1. What is ARCO?
  2. What’s their role?
  3. How do they help retirement-living seekers?
  4. What is an integrated retirement community?
  5. Our ARCO-affiliated retirement partners
  6. Find an ARCO-affiliated retirement home

What is ARCO?

Formed in 2012, The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) represents the UK Integrated Retirement Community sector, helping to ensure retirement operators continue providing a high-quality service to their residents, to best serve our ageing population.

ARCO state that older adults should:

  • ‘Be treated with respect and dignity’
  • ‘Be enabled and supported to live independently for as long as possible’
  • ‘Have what they need to be happy and healthy, including access to good support, care and health services’

As of June 2023, ARCO has 29 members in total, including retirement living operators and more, with these making up around 50% of the Integrated Retirement Community sector.

If you’re a current or future operator within this space, you can apply to join ARCO. People also join ARCO to gain invaluable knowledge and information from within this ever-expanding sector.

What Is the Role of ARCO?

ARCO has three leading roles within the retirement living sector:

  1. To ensure all members and operators provide a brilliant service and lifestyle to their residents. This is achieved through the Standards and Compliance Framework

  2. To raise awareness of the Integrated Retirement Community model, to ensure older adults are fully aware of all options available to them, along with the positives of each

  3. To create more experts within and a better understanding of the sector

ARCO Standards and Compliance Framework

This framework consists of five separate sections:

  1. The ARCO Consumer Code (we’ve explained this later on)

  2. Registering to ARCO and agreeing to follow their Standards and Compliance Framework

  3. Ongoing assessments following the ARCO Consumer Code

  4. The Standards Committee that oversees the Standards and Compliance Framework

  5. Ensuring any issues which arise and need to be addressed are done so quickly and effectively

Essentially, this Standards and Compliance Framework ensures high standards are maintained, and that operators are transparent around things like their fees and other charges. Operators are also required to treat residents fairly.

ARCO will often support its partners through things like workshops, training and other useful materials as well.

How Does ARCO Help Retirement Living Seekers?

In the UK, ARCO is the main regulatory body that sets and maintains standards for Integrated Retirement Communities operators.

When partnered with ARCO, operators need to meet several standards. This guarantees a great experience for residents, while also ensuring new residents are provided with clear and easy-to-understand information from the get-go.

The ARCO Consumer Code

Partners are required to follow the ARCO Consumer Code, and how well they’re doing this will be looked at during assessments. This Consumer Code includes:

  • Having staff on hand 24/7
  • Making domestic support and personal care services available
  • Providing communal facilities that encourage socialisation between residents
  • Ensuring all marketing materials are clear and truthful
  • Dealing with any complaints in a speedy yet also understanding and accommodating way

We can help you find the perfect UK retirement home. Use our free service to filter by location, price, the facilities available, purchase type and more!

What Is An Integrated Retirement Community?

‘Integrated Retirement Community’ is a term created by ARCO to better describe the sector it represents. The retirement living sector contains numerous similarly named property types and care options, and this term aims to reduce any confusion around these names.

In an integrated retirement community, you or your loved one can choose from superb housing options specifically aimed at older adults, while also having access to tailored support services.

Here, residents can rent or buy a property, with a low-maintenance lifestyle and additional services like communal facilities, 24/7 on-site staff and extra optional care where needed, ensuring an independent lifestyle can be continued for as long as possible.

Integrated retirement communities include retirement villages, assisted living, independent living, extra care and housing-with-care.

To be registered with ARCO as an Integrated Retirement Community, the following must be provided to residents:

  • Self-contained and private accommodation
  • Security of tenure (the right to be granted a new lease once a current lease expires)
  • Communal facilities and a busy activities programme
  • Meals in a dining area or on-site restaurant
  • Personal care and domestic services (where needed)
  • Staff on-site 24/7 (including in case of emergency)

Retirement living seekers can use ARCO to find ARCO-approved integrated retirement communities throughout the UK.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are one of the most popular development types within the Integrated Retirement Community umbrella. There’s often a lot of overlap between retirement villages, assisted living and independent living.

Just like other forms of retirement living, retirement villages are built specifically for buyers above a certain age, often 55+ or 65+.

Formed of numerous properties such as apartments, retirement bungalows and cottages, retirement villages contain state-of-the-art facilities like bistro-style restaurants, gyms, libraries, cinema rooms, idyllic gardens and more.

A retirement village can be thought of as a community full of friendly, similarly-aged individuals. Events and activities are organised throughout the week, to encourage socialisation between residents.

Additional care is often available to those who need it as well, such as 24/7 on-site support and assistance with domestic tasks.

Retirement villages allow older adults to continue living independently in later life, but with much less property upkeep to worry about, due to living in a smaller property.

Northampton Richmond Villages

Our ARCO-Affiliated Retirement Partners

Many of our retirement partners work with ARCO to ensure an amazing standard of retirement living is provided. Here are our ARCO-affiliated retirement partners:

Find An Arco-Affiliated Retirement Home

We list numerous retirement living properties throughout the UK, including retirement villages and retirement communities.

Many of these homes are partnered with ARCO as well, such as:

Banstead Place in Banstead, Surrey

Riverstone Fulham in Fulham, London

Cheltenham Richmomd Village in Cheltenham

Retirement living developments offer secure, vibrant and luxurious housing with state-of-the-art facilities for older adults. Request a free retirement living shortlist and we’ll recommend retirement properties matching your budget, location and desired facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does ARCO stand for?

ARCO stands for the ‘Associated Retirement Community Operators’. ARCO is the main body representing the Integrated Retirement Community sector in the UK.

What is an IRC in ARCO?

Within the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), an IRC is an ‘Integrated Retirement Community’. This universal name is an all-encompassing way of discussing numerous property types and terminology within the retirement living sector, such as retirement villages, assisted living, independent living and extra care.

What is an integrated retirement community?

‘Integrated retirement community’ is a collective term used to describe housing options for older adults who would benefit from bespoke support services. Within one of these communities, residents will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, personal and domestic care where needed, 24/7 on-site support and connections to the wider community.

What’s the difference between a retirement village and a care home?

Retirement villages are specifically targeted at adults above a certain age - often 65 and over - who wish to live an independent yet low-maintenance lifestyle within luxurious surroundings, while still benefitting from additional support where needed.

Meanwhile, care home residents often require round-the-clock care and will have little independence (though many staff will encourage independence in care).

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