Whether press releases for journalists, newsletters for our clients or current projects for potential clients: This is where you can find current, first-hand information about TERRAGON. In our press reviews, you will find a selection of articles by and about TERRAGON that have appeared in recent months. Our newsletter “Modern living for senior citizens” takes a deeper look at topics that deal with demographically inclusive, barrier-free construction. If you are looking for information that you haven’t been able to find here, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Our blog deals with topics like barrier-free and senior-friendly housing, current articles and reports from our press reviews.
TOO FEW AGE-APPROPRIATE APARTMENTS IN GERMANY
In Germany, only 1.6 million of a total of some 21 million apartments have age-appropriate elevators. This was revealed in a study by Terragon, Hundt Consult and Immobilienscout24 about age-appropriate elevators and apartments in Germany. The study examined 418 German cities. The proportion of apartments with elevators varies in the metropolises between 26.6 percent and 50.5 percent. In addition, the study separately considered the share of age-appropriate elevators in residential housing – with sobering results. The frontrunner is the city of Freiburg im Breisgau with 18.3 percent. Among the major cities, Berlin scored the best with 11.5 percent. Munich was a close second with 10.4 percent. In Stuttgart (8.9 percent), Cologne (8.8 percent), Frankfurt (7.9 percent), Hamburg (6.8 percent) and Düsseldorf (5 percent) the share is only in the single digits. “In more than 80 percent of the apartments in Germany, a basic requirement that enables people, also at an advanced age, to stay in their own apartments, is missing: an age-appropriate elevator”, says Dr. Michael Held, Managing Partner at TERRAGON.
MORE PEOPLE WITH PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
This lack of age-appropriate apartments, and elevators, contrasts to the trend that older generations are striving to lead a self-reliant life long into their retirement. “Currently, 3.7 million people in Germany over 65 live with age and health-related limitations that affect their mobility”, explains Dr. Held. This trend is expected to grow in the coming decades – as is the number of senior citizens in total. By 2050, the Federal Office of Statistics foresees 6.43 million more people over 60 in comparison with 2000. “The low number of apartments, that are accessible by elevator, is a dramatic wake-up call in this case”, observed Dr. Held.
THE HIGH COST OF RETROFITTING
However, retrofitting existing buildings is not always possible and the effort is associated with high costs. The study’s authors estimate that if an average investment of EUR 80,000 per apartment building were spent for the subsequent installation of an elevator in Germany, it would mean having to make a one-time investment of EUR 32 billion. It might be useful to compare this with the annual costs arising from unnecessarily occupied nursing care beds. About 15 percent of people in need of care would not need to live in a nursing care facility if more were done to retrofit buildings for senior citizens. This is the result of a study by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Accordingly, the potential savings for the state and for private households would amount to EUR 5.2 billion. These possible savings would rise to EUR 7.5 billion by 2030, according to the authors of the study. The demographic challenges facing Germany can only be indirectly solved by installing elevators. However, efforts should be intensified. According to forecasts, only about 3.7 percent of new apartment buildings are currently barrier-free. “In Germany, we are currently not building to meet the massive demands”, commented Dr. Held.
HOME HEALTH CARE MUST BE WELL CONCEIVED
It is only once nursing care becomes necessary that many family members first realize how burdensome it can be to spare their elderly dependents from moving into a home. Of the 2.8 million people who need care in Germany, three quarters are currently taken care of at home. Although this step completely transforms a person’s everyday life, many feel forced into the situation by family or societal pressure.
BEING FORCED TO SWITCH ROLES BUILDS PRESSURE
And this is the cause of much drama behind closed doors, as attested by an Infratest survey, which states that a total of more than 80 percent of caregivers feel put upon. As many as 42 percent said they felt extremely put upon. Those needing care also suffer in this situation. An older study reveals that every year about 600,000 older people are the victims of domestic violence. When this involves several years of care, trouble in most of the cases is not the result of malice, but simply by being overloaded by a tense, family situation. When the child is expected to suddenly take on the role of mother or father, to take on the tasks that were previously the role of the parents, life can change dramatically.
NURSING CARE HOMES NEED MORE BEDS AND PERSONNEL
Due to the increasing average age of our population, there will be ever more people in need of care. Nursing care homes can provide enormous assistance to family members, which is why more beds and personnel are needed. The cabinet decision of the Federal German Government, passed in January, attempts to make the care profession more attractive for young people. It aims to add more employees to care for people in nursing care homes and to secure the main advantage of a nursing care home: constant, medical attention for seniors.
Another big advantage is the use of technical aids, such as nursing beds, special mattresses or lifting aids, that would be very costly for private households and often transform cosy bedrooms into sterile care stations. A nursing home provides seniors with an age-appropriate, barrier-free environment, and can also offer activities, such as ergo- or sport therapies. Seniors are offered a complete package which cannot be offered by home care.
PLAN EARLY, TAKE CONTROL
It is all the more important that families and spouses talk about how they want to live out their golden years. And promises that have already been made concerning care should be well considered and discussed. As difficult as it is to send a partner or a family member to a nursing care home – in some cases, this is a relief for both parties from the pressures of home care. It also makes the visiting time all the more valuable when both parties are not under pressure.
ASSISTED LIVING: LEARNING FROM THE LEADERS
According to a survey of the Federal Office of Statistics, some 2.6 million people in Germany were in need of care in 2013 – a number that will only rise with increasing life expectancy. Society has the growing challenge of making sure that this group is assured dignified care. Meanwhile, 29 percent of those in need of care were catered for by inpatient nursing care homes. Anyone who still has the choice wants to be cared for at home, at best with outpatient care. Assisted living is not only advantageous for the person being cared for. As it is altogether cheaper than classic nursing care, municipalities, family members and long-term care insurance can also benefit from this model. But outpatient care is only possible if the apartment is age-appropriate.
TOO FEW AGE-APPROPRIATE APARTMENTS
This is a problem. According to a study by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, only 1.7 percent of the 41 million apartments in Germany satisfy the needs of older people. While demand increases – by 2030 the Institute of Economic Research (IW) estimates 2.8 million people in need of care –, new buildings are still not adequately equipped. Currently, less than five percent of all newbuilds are barrier-free. Retrofitting existing buildings is comparatively more expensive, with average costs of about EUR 17,500 per apartment. To get a clear picture of the actual situation concerning assisted living, Terragon conducted a study of the care situation in Germany’s 30 largest cities. The result is shocking: Nationwide, it found that there is only an average of 4.5 assisted living apartments for every 100 residents over 70. The quota for nursing care beds was better, at 7.1 per 100. If you compare the offer of nursing care beds in relation to the offer of assisted living apartments, over 70,000 assisted living apartments are needed in Germany.
LARGE REGIONAL DIFFERENCES
In fact, there are considerable differences between the respective cities. While Frankfurt am Main offers 10.5 assisted living apartments per 100 residents over 70, thereby exceeding the calculated need, Mönchengladbach was the worst performer with only 0.6 – this corresponds to a deficit of over 2,500 assisted living apartments. The other four of the last five on the list (Gelsenkirchen, Duisburg, Wuppertal and Bochum) are in North Rhine-Westphalia. Berlin came in last place in absolute numbers. Although the capital offers 4.6 assisted living apartments per 100 residents over 70, which is slightly above-average. However, based on its large population, the existing deficit translates to a lack of 12,000 assisted living apartments in Berlin.
MUNICIPALITIES IN A TIGHT SPOT
Municipalities have to seize the initiative if they want to offset the lack of assisted living apartments and to prepare themselves for increasing demand. There are various instruments available, including municipal housing associations, provisions governing construction sites in municipal ownership, and prioritizing building permits for barrier-free apartments. Some municipalities have already begun to react to these developments, but others simply ignore this problem. This is the fault of the previous lack of transparency in the nursing care sector. This will soon change thanks to the Terragon study. The portal “Guide to assisted living” provides a reliable and current overview of provision in Germany’s 500 largest cities and municipalities. The information is available, it is now up to the municipalities to act.
GERMANY NEEDS MORE NURSING CARE HOMES
The need for nursing care homes in Germany will increase considerably at least until 2060. 3.6 million people in need of care are expected by 2030 – about a third of them will require inpatient care in a nursing care facilities. This demand cannot be met by the current 900,000 nursing care beds.
CONURBATIONS ARE MOST AFFECTED
There will be a lack of nursing care beds, particularly in conurbations. This conclusion was drawn in the Wüest & Partner und Ottenströer Nursing Home Atlas. In Berlin alone, more than 11,800 beds will be lacking by 2030. But it will also be difficult for other large cities. In addition, some facilities will have to close before the lack of care beds reaches its peak – be it because of outdated building structures or new regulations, which would make renovation too costly, or would make the operational size or location of the facility uneconomic.
HOME CARE CANNOT COMPENSATE FOR THE INCREASE IN DEMAND
Although home care is promoted by the slogan “outpatient instead of inpatient”, actual development still lags behind increasing demand. There are too few apartments available, and retrofitting existing apartments is quite costly. Together with the lack of well-equipped nursing care home beds, this starting position will quickly lead to increased burdens for people in need of care and their family members. Shortfalls and the pressure to move into run-down nursing care homes with insufficient personnel are poor prerequisites for spending your twilight years in a pleasant and dignified environment.
CONSTRUCTION IS PARTICULARLY EXPENSIVE WHERE THE NEED IS GREATEST
Generally speaking, between 170,000 and 300,000 new nursing care home beds are needed by 2030 – depending on the scenario. These places are not being built under current market conditions – at least not in the locations where they are needed, namely in large cities. And this is because development land is expensive in conurbations. This quickly makes the calculation for most investors uneconomic. One option to solve this problem is to subdivide a building. Buyers of partial-ownership often accept lower margins, leaving more financial leeway. Other investors are driven to the city’s periphery, where development land is more affordable. To address the increasing demand for nursing care home beds, it is important that politicians do not, however, ignore inpatient care, without creating sufficient alternatives.