A coordinated roll-out of the ‘apartments for life’ model could save the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 25 years, according to a report commissioned by the Benevolent Society.

The ACIL Tasman Economics study described the Dutch model as “appealing”, saying it deserved closer consideration.

The projected savings from an adoption of the ‘apartments for life philosophy’ would be driven by a significant reduction in the proportion of people needing to enter high care residential services.

Developed by the Humanitas Foundation in Rotterdam, the concept enables older residents to live in their own apartments where they are able to receive personal care and nursing support as their needs increase.

Only 5 per cent of people who enter the apartments would be expected to progress to high care facilities, compared to 40 per cent of people currently receiving Commonwealth-funded aged care.

The Benevolent Society is currently seeking approval from Waverley Council for a $64 million, multi-storey apartments for life development in Bondi, Sydney.

Forty per cent of the 140 apartments will be set aside for people on low to moderate incomes with limited savings and assets. The remaining residents will pay market price for their apartments.

The proposed apartments have been designed to provide maximum flexibility for frail older residents.

If the Bondi development successfully demonstrates the attractions of the model, as many as 50 more similar developments could proceed throughout Australia.

“The upshot of such a trend, using an increasingly well understood model, would be very large in the collective benefits to users, their families, to government and the wider community,” the study said.

“There are risks, but these appear modest and are being accepted by [The Benevolent Society], and this actually reinforces the case that expected benefits exceed expected costs.”

If the model gained broader acceptance, ACIL Tasman said the federal government should consider making up-front capital contributions to support future developments.

It said that instead of taking the form of a subsidy, such payments could be seen as an investment vital community services, such as affordable housing.

The Benevolent Society’s CEO, Richard Spencer said the findings of the ACIL Tasman Study reinforced the organisation’s commitment to its ‘apartments for life’ project.

“Pioneering an innovative project of this size and scope certainly has its challenges, but we believe our research undertaken over many years places us in good stead,” Mr Spencer said.

“This is a smart response that combines age-friendly design and well-planned community facilities that increase older people’s options so that moving to a nursing home needn’t be an inevitability.”

Click here to see the full ACIL Tasman Report.

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