I’m Kevin Beirne, Head of Retirement at Octopus Healthcare. This blog marks the first in a series about my thoughts on the retirement living sector and the challenges we face in making sure we get it right. In the coming months I’ll cover topics such as the retirement living model in the UK versus overseas, the housing ladder and impact of releasing equity, as well as giving a view on the support required by the Government.
I’d like to start by introducing myself to those who may or may not know me, and sharing some of my history with you.
My passion for property development started at university where I studied geography and my dissertation looked at the gentrification of housing. It sparked a genuine interest in the built environment and all its intricacies. Shortly after I got the bug for specialist housing and healthcare while studying for a postgraduate qualification at the Oxford Brookes School of the Built Environment.
Over the past 15 years, I have committed myself to retirement living. As both a developer and an operator I have travelled around the UK and overseas to learn what good looks like – and bring that into the work I do, to strive for positive, and very much needed, change.
A career built on experience
Before joining Octopus Healthcare I was an Executive Director and Group Board Member at One Housing Group, leading their healthcare business. I delivered over £500m of investment into class-leading assets and joint ventures with the NHS. I also was responsible for creating both the Season Senior Living brand and associated retirement community developments at Baycroft.
I joined Octopus Healthcare in January earlier this year and I sit on the Octopus Healthcare Executive Management Team. The team and I are responsible for raising funds for investment into retirement communities in the UK.
I was drawn to retirement living because the idea of creating a home that has been tailored to the very specific needs of an older person, who has changing needs as they age and requires certain facilities, has always been fulfilling and an enjoyable achievement. My teams and I pride ourselves on creating beautiful and aspirational homes that are cleverly designed to allow someone to continue living independently in a safe way, which is really important to me.
Octopus Healthcare’s retirement community near Bath called Wadswick Green is a prime example of how the retirement property sector is personal and configured solely around the specific needs of the retiree demographic. Wadswick Green includes a range of social spaces such as a restaurant, café, gym and swimming pool facilities. The apartments are also cleverly designed to feature wider access doorways, wet rooms and light fittings that are easy to use. I believe that all of these necessary adjustments can be designed in a modern and visually appealing way.
I met a resident on a site visit a few months ago, who expressed such gratitude to my colleagues and me since moving to our retirement village; this type of feedback makes all the hard work worth it.
This is just a glimpse of the topics I’m going to cover over the coming months so please stay in touch to read my next blog which will be published in early October. It will be one not to miss as it is a follow up to the Conservative Party Conference where Octopus Healthcare are sponsoring Damian Green, MP and Fraser Nelson (Editor of The Spectator) discussing the topic of “What’s next for the over 60s? Social care and beyond”.
I look forward to seeing you again soon,