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Boosting later life housing options key to ageing well

Housing settings don’t always provide the choice and availability for people who use care and support services, a report looking into the needs of older people has found.

Future Options for Housing and Care, by the Commission on the Role of Housing in the Future of Care and Support, focuses on care homes, retirement communities, retirement housing, supported living and Shared Lives.

The report argues that if we are to successfully improve people’s quality of life in later life, the government must commit to finding ways to improve the quality and quantity of housing that facilitates care and support.

It provides an overview of the key issues facing the sector and outlines a vision for the future and some preliminary ideas which the commission believes merit further exploration.

The commission’s chair, Paul Burstow, who also chairs Social Care Institute for Excellence said:

‘The government’s health and care white paper has a large housing shaped hole at its heart.

‘The white paper is all about integrating health and care, getting the right housing options can pay big dividends for people in later life when they have care and support needs.

‘Now is the time for a national strategy that invests in dramatically increasing the number and choice of places to live that provide access to personalised care.

‘Above all, we need a change in mindsets so that housing, care and support go hand-in-hand and are sustainable.’

The increasing demand for housing that facilitates care and support means that the need for change is now critical.

The commission has identified a number of features that it says need to be addressed in the future:

  • Housing needs to be in the right place: People should be able to access housing that facilitates care and support in both a place they want to live and a community with which they identify
  • It needs to promote independence: We support people to live independent lives, in a place they call home, for as long as possible
  • Co-production and shared decision-making is essential. Involvement of people who use care and support in respect of housing should be widened and deepened.

The commission says that, in order to deliver this vision, there must be a dramatic increase in the supply of housing that facilitates care and support.

Every area should have a full spectrum of housing options including supported living and Shared Lives schemes, retirement communities, retirement housing, and care homes available to meet the needs of a growing number of older people, including those who are living alone.

Susan Kay, executive director and CEO of the Dunhill Medical Trust, said:

‘The provision of a range of choice of suitable housing within age-friendly communities means we can all look forward to a healthier later life.

‘But it’s clear that this choice is not available consistently up and down the country. This report represents the Commission’s initial findings. and calls for substantial change both nationally and locally if people are to be able to access the choice of housing they deserve.

‘There is strong evidence of the links between suitable housing and health outcomes in later life so joined-up thinking across the health, social care and housing budgeting and planning is long overdue.

‘Using co-production, local leadership and deep local knowledge of the needs of communities can make sure that housing facilitates good care and support for the years to come.’

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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