Tier-II cities evolve into senior living hubs

1BHK or 2BHK units in goAAs the population of senior citizens in India rises to 118 million in 2016, an increasing number of developers are venturing into the senior living space. Many private entities have already made a foray into this sector. While some companies enter it as part of their corporate social responsibility, charitable organisations are also found in the sector. Realising the upside potential and to have first-mover advantage, a few prominent corporate houses have also forayed into senior living.
Builders such as Tata Housing, Paranjape Schemes, Ashiana Housing, Adani Realty, Silverglades and Brigade have started setting up specially designed homes targeted at well-to-do seniors who have enough money and might want to live independently after retirement. Unlike old-age homes of the past, most these senior home projects are part of larger projects and townships. According to JLL India, there are around 30-35 senior living projects in the country.
Developers are evolving as realisation dawns that they are not constructing old-age homes and that social infrastructure is important to have around their projects. That’s why select destinations in cities like Pune, Coimbatore, Goa, Chennai, Bangalore, Dehradun, Kasauli and some other parts of north-India have become senior living hotspots.
“This segment will grow significantly in the coming years and people will try new services and models, which will address specific customer needs thereby expanding the market further. Cities like Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Chennai, Nagpur, Pondicherry, Dehradun, Kasauli, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bhubaneswar will start becoming more popular for senior living. Our recommendation for people looking at entering the industry is to keep exploring these cities, looking for new models, look for an experienced operator to help you run the services and start investing in this sector for long term strategic growth”, said Sanjay Lakhotia, Founder Director, Aamoksh One Eighty Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.. Aamoksh One Eighty currently has an inventory of 288 rooms in its two projects in Kasauli and Kodaikanal and expects to at least double the number of rooms through new projects in 2016. “To cater to this segment, we need to be sensitive to their needs and design a product that meets their expectations. These require a special focus on special requirements of senior citizens – grab rails, anti-skid tiles, wheelchair-friendly premises, social and spiritual events, restaurants, convenience stores, libraries and a club area with rooms to play cards and follow hobbies. More importantly, understanding the living conditions as well as medical requirements (distinguishing physical and psychological assistance) required by seniors citizen in their old age so that they can desire to live life to the fullest and get their personal space”, said Anubhav Jain, Director Silverglades group that is is developing ‘Melia First Citizen’ which is Delhi NCR’s First Premium Senior Living Community. As these cities have social infrastructure, people who moved out from here in their youth, are coming back after retirement.
Projects have started coming up on the outskirts and suburbs of key metros as well. It is estimated that in around five years’ time, there would be many more projects in the periphery regions of prominent cities.
Also, while most of the projects being launched in this space are holistically dedicated to senior citizens, many developers are also launching integrated townships, wherein a proportion of total units are dedicated to senior living along with generic residential developments.
Interestingly, progressive projects now allow all three levels of care in senior housing facilities — independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care and optionally Alzheimer care facilities — within one campus.
However, these facilities may be phased out over a period of time to allow for a continuum of care as residents will benefit from having all facilities in one campus-like environment. Such facilities get termed as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).
CCRCs, catering to all the needs of senior citizens in the age bracket of 60 to 80 years, are yet to arrive in India. However, a few corporates have ventured into this space and are planning to come up with such projects.
— With inputs from Manish Kumar, National Director (Strategic Consulting), JLL India
Market dynamics
Most of the senior living projects are concentrated either in budget/ affordable segment or medium-price segment. Owing to smaller ticket sizes, such projects are relatively more affordable for the senior citizens while they also ensure quicker movement of inventory and increased absorption levels for the developers.
Along with affordability, another crucial parameter for the success of a senior living project would include the range of services and amenities being provided by the developer in the project and the operating expenditure for the same. While moving into such a project, senior citizens have to shell out not only the apartment’s cost but also provision for the day-to-day operating expenses.
The most important service/ facility sought by a senior citizen while moving into a senior living project is the healthcare facility. Therefore, most of the senior living projects have a day-care facility for minor ailments and regular check-ups of their residents. Further, they also tie up with big hospitals in the vicinity (i.e. a 5-8 km radius around the project), where a resident can be rushed, in case of a medical emergency, or for treatment of any other major ailment.
In terms of configuration, the unit size of most senior living projects is in the range of 700–1,400 sq ft and most of the units are designed to ensure mobility and assistance to senior citizens in their day-to-day activities.
Most of the projects have either 1BHK or 2BHK units. Smaller configurations are preferred because they result in providing sufficient and easily maintainable space to senior citizens at a relatively more affordable ticket price.