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ExtraCare resident and councillor advocates for Integrated Retirement Communities at annual Labour Party conference

Milton Keynes resident and dedicated community leader, Cllr David Tunney, took to the stage at the recent Labour Party Conference to champion the cause of Integrated Retirement Communities (IRCs). David joined a distinguished panel to address the pressing issue of how Labour’s National Care Service can revolutionise housing options for older people.

The panel, which included Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Minister for Social Care, Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director of Age UK, and Shama Tatler, Brent Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, convened to discuss the vital topic of improving housing solutions for the older generation.

David (far right) on the Panel.

During his presentation, David, 82, shed light on the unique aspects of life at Shenley Wood Village, emphasising the significant role that IRCs play in enhancing the lives of older individuals. He underscored the importance of organisations like the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) and ExtraCare in alleviating the strain on care services while simultaneously freeing up housing resources.

David emphasised the glaring disparity between the United Kingdom and countries like Australia and New Zealand in terms of IRC provision. He argued passionately for the right of older people to live independently and with dignity, asserting that enabling individuals to age in IRCs ultimately reduces societal costs. This was highlighted with the mention of ExtraCare’s research findings, which indicate a remarkable 38% cost savings to the NHS for residents in ExtraCare locations.

Speaking about the communal aspect of IRCs, David added: 


“We live our independent lives, but we live communally under one roof. If I want to go to the pub, I can pop downstairs, I don’t have to even put on a coat, and I can meet friends from all walks of life. That is the ethos behind ExtraCare; it recognises that we will all get older and provides a positive solution for people in their later years.”

Acknowledging the commendable recognition of the sector to the Older People’s Housing Taskforce, David challenged the panel to “find a better place” for older people to reside than an IRC, citing his own village’s 150 resident volunteers as a key benefit. He concluded by extending an open invitation to Andrew Gwynne and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves to visit ExtraCare’s Shenley Wood Village, to witness first-hand the transformative impact of IRCs.

The Labour Party conference will conclude in Liverpool on Wednesday 11 October.

Find out more about Shenley Wood Village or ExtraCare’s research.