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Government urged to prioritise accessible housing for older people

The ONS estimates that 19.7% of England’s population will be over 65 by 2024.

The government should prioritise and invest in accessible housing suitable for people to live in as they get older, housing experts have urged.

In a new report, the Centre for Ageing Better has warned that a lack of affordable and accessible housing is leading older people to stay in unsuitable homes until they reach crisis point.

The report, based on interviews with residents and housing professionals in Leeds, also said that councils should also provide better advice and support to help them move home as they get older.

It found that older people thinking of moving or adapting their homes are often hindered by complex or disordered support about the options available to them, causing them to put off their decision.

Joanne Volpe, the Centre for Ageing Better’s partnership manager in Leeds, said: ’Our work in Leeds shows many people struggle to think about the future, when we know that planning ahead can really help to navigate all the options available and mean we can live somewhere we want to for longer.

‘Help should be local, accessible and take a collaborative approach to enable trust to be built.”

The report found that, due to their age, Britain’s homes are in poor condition and inaccessible, with only 7% of homes having all four necessary features that make them accessible to most people.

While people ‘overwhelmingly’ want to stay in their own homes and communities as they get older, they are open to moving into alternative housing like co-housing or purpose-built retirement homes but suffer from a lack of choice and support, it added.

Councils should provide an up-to-date directory of local services and run local awareness campaigns for different age groups to make them aware of their options, the report suggested.

The centre also called on the government to reinstate funding for a ‘joined-up’ national advice service which can signpost people to housing services available at a local level.

It stressed that the government should also invest in better enabling older people to repair, improve or adapt their homes so they can continue to stay where they live.

Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, commented: ‘This research highlights the importance of a much more joined up approach in local areas so people seeking advice are both equipped with all the options but not overwhelmed by choice.

‘Of course, all the advice and support in the world won’t matter if there aren’t any suitable homes for people to move into or if they can’t get the upgrades and repairs they need.’

The report highlights the housing pressures facing the UK’s growing, ageing population, with the Office of National Statistics estimating that 19.7% of England’s population will be over 65 by 2024.

Earlier this year, NewStart spoke with women involved with the senior co-housing scheme Older Women’s Co-Housing (OWCH) to see how senior co-housing could be a viable housing option for older people.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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