Good quality housing can support healthy ageing and we as an organisation want to support this as much as we can.
The government has set up an Older People’s Housing Taskforce, which recently called for evidence for organisations to contribute insight and advice on what its priorities should be. We coordinated our response with the G15 by interviewing colleagues from general needs and care and support.
We want to share a snapshot of the responses we received:
Affordability: While financial support for older residents living in cold homes has helped, they have been hit by the cost-of-living, with some needing to use food banks or cut back on essentials.
Downsizing: Residents who are connected to their home, possessions, furniture and community do not see downsizing as an attractive option. The impetus for a move to specialist older people’s housing often comes from a relative who is concerned about their well-being, but is not always accepted as the right thing by the person themselves.
Adaptations: Moving to a new home can be confusing and unsettling for residents, and in some cases their health can deteriorate, or they cannot adjust. Adaptations allow residents to stay in their home and live independently, but there are many barriers to fitting adaptations. These include waiting times for occupational therapist referrals, the challenges that Victorian properties pose, and delays in receiving planning permission.
Smart technology: There is an array of smart technology that can greatly improve independent living: telecare, sensors inside and outside the property, Alexa, smart ovens, and more. At the same time, some residents are put off by smart technology being pre-installed in a property as it makes them feel ‘monitored’. The use of smart technology by families has also led to safeguarding concerns.
Design: Older people’s housing should feel welcoming and homely. Lounges should have no walls, so residents feel comfortable walking into the space. Colour coded doors can look smart while also supporting residents with dementia to safely find their door. New designs should factor in space for mobility scooters.
Location: The location of schemes can help combat loneliness, for example if they are near a high street or park. They can also have benefits for the wider community. For example, schemes located near schools will see lower levels of anti-social behaviour as children grow up living next to, and respecting, their older neighbours.
Diverse needs: Language barriers and moving away from their community and families can put some residents off moving to a scheme even if they recognise it as being more suitable to their needs. Some older residents have spoken about being regarded as ‘elderly’ when they retire and being around people of a similar age can help them re-establish their identity.
We’re continuing to work with the government to make sure older people are given the best care to suit their needs.