The Commission on Residential Care was formed in July 2013 to explore the future of residential care in its broadest sense – from care homes to extra care villages and supported living, for older and disabled people. Chaired by former Care Services Minister Paul Burstow MP and composed of a group of academics, experts and practitioners related to residential care, it has two main objectives. First, to create a vision of ‘housing with care’, not bound by existing definitions but based on the outcomes that people want and value.

And second, to set out how the existing offer could change to deliver this vision, across financial, operational, governance and cultural aspects of care. This is the final report of the Commission, which draws on evidence gathered over the course of 12 months by the Demos secretariat. This includes surveys, interviews and focus groups with experts, care staff, disabled and older people and members of the public; site visits and international trips; and two calls for evidence.

One of the most striking findings is the sheer impact of negative public perceptions – the public broadly see care settings as places of illness and frailty, where you would only go as a last resort. But despite these perceptions, the sector is full of innovative and excellent examples of high-quality, personalised and empowering care for people with diverse and complex needs.

The Commission recommends a number of measures to embed good practice and challenge public perceptions. These include enshrining a broader, more accurate definition of ‘housing with care’ throughout government policy; greater co-location of care settings with other community services such as colleges; the expansion of CQC’s role in inspecting commis- sioning practices; and promoting excellence in the profession through the introduction of a license to practice and a living wage. The Commission concludes that these measures, among others, could help build a housing with care sector fit for the twenty-first century.