An evaluation of a not-for-profit retirement living and aged care provider’s housing and care services for older people in need has found that every dollar invested creates more than seven times that in value for residents, the community and governments.

The Living Communities Age Well study undertaken by Think Impact uses the Social Return on Investment framework to measure the economic and social impacts of services provided by the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria across its four villages.

Homelessness of older people and especially older women, housing affordability and aged care are among the focus areas of OCAV’s services, which include a mix of independent and assisted living accommodation and aged care that allow residents to age in place.

The report, which was released by OCAV last week, shows that for every dollar invested in OCAV, over $7.41 in value is created for residents, the community and governments.

An annual investment of $14.7 million by OCAV to provide housing and care creates an additional $109 million in total value, according to the evaluation.

Residents are the largest beneficiary, receiving 54 per cent of the value ($60 million), mostly created from peace of mind and dignity related to housing security and care certainty.

Family members of residents experienced 30 per cent of the value as a result of improved family relationships and fewer physical and emotional demands ($32.2 million).

Improved physical and mental health, increased independence, lifestyle choices and inclusion and a stronger sense of belonging are among other benefits experienced by residents.

The value to the Victorian Government, which might otherwise have to provide public housing to OCAV residents, is $1.6 million a year, while the Australian Government receives $9 million in value a year due to reduced health and aged care costs, the report found.

Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria CEO Phillip Wohlers said the evaluation showed that their model of affordable housing and care was effective.

“The results are impressive as they demonstrate that our approach to safe housing and care contributes to older Victorians in need being able to rebuild their lives and move forward to age well,” Mr Wohlers said.

OCAV’s operating model allows residents to access all levels of care through a mixture of philanthropic support, means-tested donations on entry from those who can afford it and affordable monthly fees.

Just over half of OCAV’s residents were either homeless or vulnerably housed living with family or friends, in private rentals or in temporary accommodation last year before entering one of the villages, the report shows.

Mr Wohlers said the findings were being used to kickstart a campaign to build more community-style villages for older Victorians in need, such as those experiencing homelsseness or financial, social or health issues.

“We will be seeking support from governments and the corporate and philanthropic sectors to join with us to continue this legacy and using our model of affordable housing and continuum of care, which has proven effective and sustainable over the past 150 years,” Mr Wohlers said.

OCAV’s waiting list has grown to over 1,000 since 2014 and now has an expected waiting period of up to seven years to enter independent living, he said.

Access the report here.

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